Wien, 9. November 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Need for clear definition of options regarding Turkey"

09.11.2006

Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the Commission’s conclusions on the enlargement process and on the forthcoming EU Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels

Vienna, 9 November 2006 - “The Commission’s progress reports reveal the individual progress made by each accession candidate on his way to Europe. We have always made a point of evaluating each country on its own merits,” said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik. “During our Presidency we already separated the negotiations with Croatia from those with Turkey. I am pleased that the most recent reports once again highlight the progress made by Croatia and confirm our decision,” said the Foreign Minister.

Referring to Turkey, the Foreign Minister, like the Commission, pointed to the considerable efforts that were needed regarding freedom of expression, the rights of non-Muslim religious communities, women’s rights, the rights of trade unions, civilian control over the military, and the Cyprus issue. She regretted that the Commission had not yet inferred any specific options for action by the EU Member States from its critical report on Turkey and that it did not propose to comment on it until just before the European Council meeting scheduled for mid-December.

“There is a need for an immediate open political debate. The Commission’s comprehensive report is now on the table. I am sure that the EU foreign ministers cannot and will not want to wait weeks to discuss an issue of such importance. We need a clear definition of the realistic options available to us in our attitude to Turkey. We owe this not only to ourselves but also to our Turkish partners. I shall therefore insist on a thorough discussion at the coming Council of Foreign Ministers on Monday,” announced Plassnik.

In this connection the Foreign Minister supported the Commission’s intention, which it had confirmed the previous day, to make a more detailed evaluation of the European Union’s absorption capacity in future. This would satisfy an Austrian request. “In its special report the Commission undertook to submit precise analyses in the course of accession negotiations of the effects of membership on key areas of European policy such as freedom of movement for persons, agriculture or transport policy. We welcome this commitment and will continue to call for the timely submission of such analyses,” emphasised Plassnik. “It is not a question of erecting new or additional barriers, but rather of ensuring better preparation and more prudent execution of the accession process. Our citizens are right in demanding clear information on the impacts of accession on important and sensitive policy areas, such as the labour market or financial implications. After all, the example of Turkey shows that the public must be involved to a greater extent, both in Turkey and in the EU,” concluded Plassnik.

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