Rehn calls for more reforms after election

Turkey needs to accelerate its reforms after Sunday's general election to kick-start its stalled effort to join the European Union, the EU's enlargement chief said.

Rehn calls for more reforms after election
Turkey began EU membership talks in 2005, but the bloc has frozen talks in eight of 35 policy areas over Ankara's Cyprus policy. Nicolas Sarkozy's election as French president has also strained ties because he is opposed to Turkey joining the EU.
"Last year the reform process slowed down," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told Germany's Die Welt daily. "After the parliamentary elections we expect Turkey to step up its reform push again and to make progress in the direction of the EU."

"Progress is needed with regard to freedom of belief and religion. Only then can the membership negotiations get a new thrust," he said, comparing the current situation to half time at a sports game.

"Both teams are rather tired, we need new blood and must revive the spirit on both sides. After the parliamentary elections we will go into the second half," Rehn said.

The EU suspended accession talks in eight policy areas because Turkey refused to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU-member Greek Cyprus, which is not recognized by Ankara.

"Negotiations on the [eight] individual chapters cannot be concluded until Turkey opens its ports," Rehn said.

Turkey's ruling center-right Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which denies any Islamist agenda, is widely expected to win the July 22 election, but possibly with a reduced majority.

The AK Party has presided over strong economic growth, falling inflation and the historic launch of the EU accession talks since sweeping to power in November 2002.

Ahead of the upcoming elections, the AK Party issued a similar election declaration to the one it had before the Nov. 3, 2002 elections, thereby giving the message, "We'll go continue with the current policies." Opposition parties criticize the government's deeds in its four-and-a-half-year term and dwell on the Cyprus issue and the troubled EU accession process.

In a recent interview with Today's Zaman, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül earlier this month said that there has been no interruption in Turkey's reform process.

"I must add that now our determination is what is important, not that of the EU. Our determination in maintaining the reform process will take Turkey to that level. This is how we see the developments, and we have displayed our reactions accordingly," Gül said then.

"There are many problems that Turkey has failed to solve through its own dynamics. We can solve these problems in cooperation with the EU. Here our target is full membership. If you do not have the full membership target, you will lose your motivation," he stres-sed at the time.

Today's zaman

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Temmuz 2007, 14:03