Address to Jean Monnet Scholars, Introductory remarks for the Conference on “Turkey’s EU Accession in the Paris-Ankara-Prague Line”, organized by the Jean Monnet Scholars’ Association. 17 April 2009


Ankara , 17 April 2009,

Your Excellency the Ambassador of the Czech Republic,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Dear students and guests,

I would like to express my gratitude to Jean Monnet Scholars’ Association to organise such an event, and it is always stimulating to meet and exchange views with students, academicians and bureaucrats working on the “EU”. Their work contributes a lot to ours in the Parliament.

I would like to emphasize the importance of the role that the EU Presidency plays in the accession process of a candidate country, which also constitutes the theme of our meeting today. Though it is the member countries which decide by unanimity on the accession of a candidate country, the Presidency always has a leading role regarding the Union’s general perspective towards enlargement policy and its perception towards the individual candidate countries. The Presidency may also play a supportive role in the negotiation process, like a partner, as does the Commission. The Czech Republic was a candidate country itself not long ego. Therefore it was not difficult for the Czech Republic to put itself in Turkey’s shoes and openly support its candidacy. Moreover, the Czech Presidency was ready to open more than the accustomed 2 chapters. I wish we could have benefited more from this support.

In line with the growing importance of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the policy-making processes everywhere, we observe more involvement of the CSOs in the negotiation process of Turkey, i.e. they were invited to contribute to the latest national programme and they did. CSOs’ support of the process is particularly valuable in the face of the declining support for the EU in the Turkish public opinion. I would like to extend my congratulations to Jean Monnet Scholars’ Association once more for having organised this event which contributes to the intellectual debate.

We need thousands of people from different disciplines to work for the accession process to be better organised and regulated. The high quality human resources in possession of thorough knowledge of the EU are indispensable in the process. Therefore, I would like to highlight the importance of the Jean Monnet scholarship and the people who benefited from them.

Now, I would like to give the floor to our distinguished speakers. Each speaker is expected to talk 15-20 minutes, thus enabling us to spare more time for the discussion.

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