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EU tells Turkey there are no shortcuts to Europe
2005-11-23 15:28:44

Brussels, Nov 23 - EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told Turkey that there are no shortcuts to Europe, only the regular route, and urged the country to ensure the implementation of commitments undertaken under the Association Agreement, including the Customs Union.

He said this applies in particular to the crucial issue of the ratification and full implementation of the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement, including the lifting of restrictions on Cypriot vessels docking at Turkish ports.

Mr. Rehn further called on Turkey to support efforts in view of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework.

In a speech titled ''Accession negotiations with Turkey: The time for celebration is over, now comes the time for delivery'' before the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Mr. Rehn said ''you are meeting at an important juncture.''

''The decision of 3 October to begin accession negotiations with Turkey is an historic milestone. Thus, the accession process entered a new stage,'' he said.

''As a first step the Commission and Turkey analyse in detail the laws and policies of the EU and compare them with the legislation of Turkey,'' he added.

Mr. Rehn said that ''it is worth noting that the accession negotiations are about determining how and when Turkey will adopt the EU acquis.'' However he noted that ''the process is not on whether Turkey will adopt it.''

''Let me be clear on one thing to avoid any future misunderstanding: I have no doubt that Turkey is a great nation. But in the accession negotiations we apply the approach of a former President of a small nation who once said that 'there is no such thing as a small nation'. For us in the negotiations, there are no large or small nations. Each and every country must meet the criteria to the letter. There are no shortcuts to Europe, only the regular route,'' he said.

He noted that ''by opening accession negotiations, the EU kept its word and respected its commitment.''

''Now we expect Turkey to honour its commitments; to begin with, as mentioned in the Accession Partnership, Turkey must ensure the implementation of commitments undertaken under the Association Agreement, including the Customs union. This applies in particular to the crucial issue of the ratification and full implementation of the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement, including the lifting of restrictions on Cypriot vessels docking at Turkish ports,'' he said.

Mr. Rehn noted that ''the sooner we have the Protocol ratified and in force, the better conditions we create for progress on the negotiations.''

Remaining on Cyprus, Rehn said that ''the Accession partnership adopted on 9 November also refers to the need for Turkey to undertake steps towards normalisation of bilateral relations between Turkey and Cyprus.''

''At the same time, it is important that Turkey continues to support efforts in view of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework,'' he said.

Please click here to read the full text of the speech by Mr. Rehn.

Meanwhile, in Dublin yesterday (Nov. 30), Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern stressed that Turkey has to comply with all EU obligations if the country wants to become an EU full member.

''Europe is very fair, everyone who joins Europe has to comply fully with the acquis, you have to fulfill all the economic, social, and human rights obligations, and every country that joins has to work on that. Croatia and Turkey have to fulfill those criteria, if they do they are then candidates for membership if they don't then they are not. That's the rules'', he underlined.

He was talking to the press after a meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, who was paying an official visit to Ireland.

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