Brüssel, 11. December 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "No discounts or deductions for Turkey"

11.12.2006

Agreement on Turkey in the General Affairs and External Relations Council

Brussels, 11 December 2006 - "Today, the EU has sent a clear signal to Turkey: we shall not grant any discounts or deductions regarding Turkey’s fulfilment of the legal obligations," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik with reference to the negotiations with Turkey following the Foreign Ministers’ Council meeting.

In response to Turkey’s clear implementation deficit with regard to the Ankara Protocol the EU had agreed not to open eight negotiation chapters (free movement of goods, freedom of establishment and services, financial services, agriculture, fishing, transport, customs union and external relations) before Turkey has met its obligations under this Protocol. "These eight key negotiation chapters have been put on ice for the time being. This is a prudent and reasonable decision and a massive deceleration and breathing space in the negotiations," said Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister was particularly pleased that agreement had also been reached on the review process demanded by Austria that had been a controversial subject to the very end. Under this process, based on the EU Commission’s 2007, 2008 and 2009 reports, the European Council will examine how far Turkey has fulfilled its obligations in connection with the implementation of the Ankara Protocol on the customs union as required by the EU. "This review process ensures the Member States’ full political control of the negotiation process. The EU has shown patience and steadfastness. In the future we shall continue to clearly point out Turkey’s shortcomings in its process of rapprochement," emphasised Plassnik.

"The wall of silence I faced in 2005 has been breached. Our course of proceeding on sight has proved useful. We issued no ultimatum and levied no sanctions, but the first practical test has shown that there are no guarantees and no automatic results in this process, the outcome of which is open," emphasised the Foreign Minister, who continued: "With today’s agreement we have averted a crisis concerning Turkey at the forthcoming European Council meeting."

Plassnik also referred to the accession conference held on the margins of the Council meeting by the EU Member States with Croatia, at which the second negotiation chapter (culture and education) was successfully completed. "This step is not only a further sign of encouragement for the entire region of the Western Balkans. It also confirms the separation of the negotiation processes with Croatia and Turkey, which we have always clearly supported. Both countries will be exclusively judged according to their own progress," concluded Plassnik.

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