Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 01 October, 2003
Written Answers. - EU Affairs.
Mr. Ring Mr. Ring
180. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the future relationship of Turkey to the European Union. [21122/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The December 2002 European Council reaffirmed that Turkey is a candidate country destined to join the European Union on the basis of the political criteria which apply to all candidate countries. It gave the commitment that if the European Council meeting in December 2004 decides that Turkey has fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria, the EU will open accession negotiations without delay. These political criteria, laid down by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993, stipulate that a candidate country must achieve stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities.
I have welcomed the progress made by Turkey in the adoption of widespread human rights reforms in 2002 and to date in 2003. A central element in the assessment to be made by the European Council in December 2004 will be the effective implementation at all levels of these legislative reforms. The EU continues to work closely with Turkey through the revised accession partnership adopted by the Council in April 2003. This sets out the priorities Turkey should pursue towards fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria, with the support of substantially increased pre-accession financial assistance. The Thessaloniki European Council in June welcomed the commitment of the Government of Turkey to carrying forward the reform process while stating that significant further efforts are required.
Two thousand and four will be a crucial year for Turkey's relationship with the European Union. I hope that it will prove possible to achieve two objectives of great significance for Turkey and for Europe in general – the accession to the EU of a united Cyprus on 1 May 2004 and agreement at the European Council in December 2004 on the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey. Ireland will play its part during our EU Presidency in working with all parties towards the creation of the conditions for the achievement of these objectives.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. EU Affairs.