EU Commissioner expects Turkey to fulfil commitments
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Mar 4 (CNA) -- European Commissioner responsible for enlargement Olli Rehn has called on Turkey to fulfil its commitment and sign the adaptation of the Ankara Agreement, which relates to extending its customs union with the EU to all the ten new members, including the Republic of Cyprus that Ankara does not recognise.
In a written statement ahead of his first official visit to Turkey from 6 to 8 March, Rehn also said that he would discuss with the Turkish political leadership preparations for the start of accession negotiations, set to begin on 3 October.
''The decision by the European Council to start accession negotiations with Turkey opens a new chapter in the historic process of peacefully unifying the European continent. Turkey has done bold and significant reforms over the last years and this process needs to continue. Between now and the 3rd of October the Commission will technically prepare the start of the negotiations. I also expect Turkey to fulfil its commitment to sign the adaptation Protocol of the Ankara Agreement,'' Rehn said in his statement.
He arrives in Ankara in the late afternoon on 6 March to meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah Gul. On Monday morning he will participate at the EU-Turkey Ministerial Troika meeting.
''Discussions will centre on EU-Turkey relations, in particular the implementation of the political criteria, the political dialogue and international issues,'' the statement added.
In the afternoon, Olli Rehn will meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chairman of the Republican People's Party Deniz Baykal, as well as Mehmet Dulger, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament.
In Constantinople on 8 March Commissioner Rehn will have meetings with NGOs, business leaders and will visit the Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Survivors.
Prior to his departure a press briefing will be held at Ataturk Airport.
Rehn's statement corresponds to the overall outlook in Brussels and other European capitals that Ankara must meet all the obligations it undertook at the December European Council meeting, including signing the protocol to its custom union agreement.