Turkey to fix broken image: EU Minister

Turkey to fix broken image: EU Minister

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey to fix broken image: EU Minister

‘It’s our responsibility to improve Turkey’s image with steps to be taken both within country and outside,’ Turkey’s EU Minister Çavuşoğlu told diplomacy correspondents.

Hoping to keep the prospect of making 2014, the “year of the European Union,” the Turkish government will launch new “reform packages” following the cascade of tough EU criticism about recent developments, EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said.

“It’s our responsibility to improve Turkey’s image with steps to be taken both within country and outside … We will support [this work] with new reforms as well,” Çavuşoğlu said on April 14 at a meeting with the Diplomatic Correspondents’ Association.

He repeated the government’s criticism of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and civil society organizations for “complaining about Turkey in the international arena,” adding that responsibility for restoring momentum to Turkey’s EU process belongs to the government.

Çavuşoğlu claimed that the EU process would now be higher in Turkey’s agenda following the recent the local elections, noting that there is also a consensus within EU bodies to open Chapters 23 and 24 of Turkey’s accession process.

“In order to make 2014 the year of the EU, we won’t content ourselves with just the action plan and the fifth judicial package we have launched. We are working on important reform packages with the aim to immediately submitting them to Parliament,” he said.

He hinted at three future “legislative packages” regarding fundamental rights and judicial reforms, while also pledging statutory decrees and circulars to fix current malfunctions in line with EU norms.
The EU, for its part, should take steps to reinforce the positive atmosphere created by the packages, Çavuşoğlu said, specifically calling for the opening of Chapter 15 on energy, Chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy, and Chapter 19 on social policy and employment. He said the government the new chapters to be opened in the second half of 2014, after the European Parliament elections.

Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle is set to visit Turkey in May and June, in order to establish working groups between the European Commission and Turkey.

The Turkish government will also set up sub-commissions under its EU Ministry, with the participation of officials from different ministries, which will discuss deficiencies and malfunctions regarding EU norms, Çavuşoğlu said, adding that they had asked the European Commission about attendance from the EU.

“We stressed to the EU Commission that these working groups should not be an excuse not to open new chapters,” he said.

Citing his recent meeting with Gianni Buquicchio, the president of the Venice Commission, Çavuşoğlu said they had discussed ways to cooperate over new legislation in Turkey. Emphasizing the need for constitutional changes, the minister said Turkey should also take account of opinions from the Venice Commission through the Constitution-making process.

The EU minister also touched on the issue of Twitter, saying it should open an office in Turkey in order to defend itself and challenge court decisions, while also adding that the company had no right to reject nearly 400 court verdicts.

He also echoed government criticism of the Constitutional Court for “acting on behalf of domestic courts,” warning that this approach could cause the Court to not work properly due to too many individual appeals being lodged with it.