World Bulletin/News Desk
Turkey's EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said on Thursday that the 'solution process', a government initiative to resolve the Kurdish issue, could not be considered in isolation from Turkey's accession negotiations with the European Union (EU).
"The EU bid has gone from being a political project to a state project. It is a process of civilization and reform, and in recently popularized terms, it is a 'solution process,'" Bagis said in his remarks at EU-Turkey the Civil Society Dialogue conference, organized to promote a grant program that involves the allocation of 25 billion USD to Turkish and EU NGOs to foster better dialogue and cooperation in civil society.
Bagis said that the reform steps Turkey has taken during the course of the EU process made the country more transparent and democratic, helping along the way to rectify the wrongs committed against many minorities.
"It is not possible today to think of the solution process in isolation from the EU bid," he said, adding, "Twenty years ago, Kurdish people were afraid even to expose their ethnic identities."
Turkey is going through a dynamic process of judiciary, political and economic reform on the path to EU membership, said Bela Szombati, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Turkey, as the EU reciprocated by supporting Turkey with its expertise and funds.
"The EU has accelerated the reforms implemented in Turkey," Szombati said, adding, "Turkey can now prioritize work on adapting to EU laws and standards."
Cyprus issue "the biggest hurdle"
Chief Negotiator Bagis said the EU made a decision two years ago to block progress on all other chapters until the 23th and 24th were successfully negotiated. They are titled "judiciary and fundamental rights", and "justice, freedom and security", respectively.
"So we said to them, 'bring to the table the criteria for these two chapters, tell us our shortcomings, and let us pass laws to eliminate them. But we were faced with a European Union which cannot open chapters to negotiations simply because of obstacles put in the way by the Greek Cypriot administration," he said.
Bagis said the biggest hurdle in the way of Turkey's accession to the EU was Cyprus issue.
"Resolving the Cyprus issue would mean removing the biggest hurdle on Turkey's path to the EU," he said.
"If the Greek Cypriot side and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) reach a mutually satisfactory deal, we as Turkey are ready to say yes; so long as they can stand on common ground," he added.
After a lengthy period of inactivity in the accession process, Turkey and the EU are getting prepared to open the chapter on regional policy to negotiations on June 26. Another chapter on economic and monetary policy, currently unilaterally blocked by France, is expected to be opened in the coming months, Bagis said.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Mayıs 2013, 11:05