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Rehn urges Turkey to implement Ankara protocol
2007-10-31 13:23:11

Nicosia, Oct 30 – The European Union has called on Ankara to meet its EU obligations with regards to Cyprus as soon as possible, adding that Turkey can only join the Union if it complies with EU principles and laws.

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has stated that Turkey has to meet its obligations in connection with the implementation of the Ankara protocol, which states that Turkey must extend its customs union with the EU to include all new member states including Cyprus, pointing out that the sooner this is done, the better.

In an interview with EurActiv, he also said that “Turkey’s accession is not for today and it is not an automatic process. It will be a long and sometimes difficult journey, which will generate an important transformation of the country.”

“Turkey can only join once it has fulfilled the conditions and thus complies with European principles and laws. This is the Turkey that the citizens will have to look at when deciding about their support,” he stressed.

The EU is closely following the debate on the planned reform of the constitution in Turkey. “We understand that it is inspired by the need to enhance the protection of human rights. We hope that the reforms will be widely discussed in the country and broad political support garnered in parliament. It is important that the new constitution enhances democracy and freedoms, Mr. Rehn stated.

He added that “the debate on the reform, which will certainly take several months, should not prevent the government from making progress on certain issues requiring urgent attention, such as freedom of expression and religious freedoms. Progress on fundamental freedoms and international obligations are not mutually exclusive - both are priorities. In relation to Cyprus, Turkey has well-known obligations related to the implementation of the Ankara protocol. We urge Turkey to respect its obligations, and the sooner, the better.”

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