The European Commission published today the 2021 Enlargement Strategy and the Country Reports prepared for all candidate and potential candidate countries, including Turkey. Unfortunately, in a period when Turkey is endeavouring to develop a positive political agenda and vitalizing high level dialogue with the EU, a report that ignores obligations of the EU towards candidate Turkey and displays once again double standards, has been published.
We do not accept the unfounded claims and unjust criticism, in particular on the political criteria and the Chapter on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. We reject the unjust and disproportionate assessments of the EU,which has not removed the political obstacles to Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and Chapter 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security), regarding our governmental and political system, fundamental rights, certain court rulings/administrative decisions as well as our fight against terrorism. The issues that are controversial even for Member States cannot be assessed without taking into consideration the specific conditions of Turkey. Indeed, disregarding the challenges faced by Turkey and threats posed by terrorist organisations such as PKK/PYD/YPG, FETO and DAESH, serves no purpose other than satisfying anti-EU and anti-Turkey radical circles in Europe.
Despite Turkey's calls for updating the 18 March Turkey-EU Statement in all its aspects, the EU mentions only the migration aspect of the Statement and praises Turkey while not referring to its own obligations. The EU’s willingness to conduct “give and take” relations on a daily basis with Turkey only in areas of its own interests is unacceptable.
It is a new example of the inconsistent stance of the EU to indicate that our alignment with the EU policies on foreign policy, regional developments, security, defence and sectoral issues has decreased and conflicts of interests have emerged while it has been blocking current high-level dialogue and cooperation mechanisms with Turkey -a candidate country- in these critical areas.
We also reject the inclusion of inconsistent and biased Greek and Greek Cypriot arguments in the Report, as in previous years, regarding the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and Cyprus issues, which are not actually within the competence of the EU. Although Turkey has done its part in terms of de-escalating the situation and initiating dialogue and cooperation, we regret to see EU‘s insistence on not acknowledging the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. This biased and unfair approach of the EU does not contribute to the settlement of the issuebut causes frequent tensions between Turkey and the EU and weakens the claim of the EU to be a regional and global power.
Turkey welcomes the fact that the report notes that the economic revival has reached pre-crisis levels thanks to the measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the economic recovery still continues, while stressing the advanced level of development of Turkey's economy. However, in this extraordinary period, when many countries have taken monetary and fiscal policy measures to eliminate the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and when state intervention in the economy has increased in general, it is difficult to understand the EU’s criticism of certain policies pursued by Turkey in terms of the functioning market economy criteria. The EU, which has delayed even the modernisation of the Customs Union by politicizing the process despite the requirements of our times and conditions, has no right to remind Turkey of its obligations.
The Report confirms that Turkey has reached, in general, a good level of alignment in 20 Chapters and achieved progress at various levels in 20 Chaptersduring the past year. This demonstrates Turkey's determination to continue alignment with the EU acquis despite the political obstacles it faces. In this respect, Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) is undeniably significant and the Report, which confirms Turkey's improvement in its absorption capacity, should have been also more encouraging regarding an increase of the IPA funds for Turkey.
Turkey firmly maintains its strategic commitment to EU membership. The most concrete example in this regard is the decisive steps we have taken within the framework of the Judicial Reform Strategy, the Human Rights Action Plan and the National Action Plan for EU Accession as well as the European Green Agenda, including the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement.
It would be beneficial for all if the EU, taking our common interests into account, considers Turkey as a negotiating candidate country rather than as a partner to conduct “give and take” relations with on a daily basis and acts accordingly in line with the principle of pactasunt servanda.