Road Map for Turkey, speech delivered at the International Summer Course Ankara Seminar Program, 10 August 2007 (Text and Power Point)

ROAD MAP FOR TURKEY

TEXT OF THE SPEECH

delivered by

Mr. YAŞAR YAKIŞ,

Chairman of the European Union Commission of the Turkish Parliament

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs

during the

“INTERNATIONAL SUMMER COURSE  ANKARA SEMINAR PROGRAM”

Ankara, 10 August 2007

  

Introduction

The full title of my presentation is “Turkey’s harmonisation programme with the EU acquis – 2007-2013”. This long phrase is the title of a basic document published by the Turkish authorities to draw a road map that will be valid until 2013. During this presentation, I will briefly dwell firstly on the reasons that led the Turkish authorities to draw such a road map. Secondly, I will say a few words regarding the philosophy and the content of this 412 pages document.

 Helsinki Summit

In the Helsinki summit of 1999 Turkey’s candidacy to the EU was officially recognised and Turkey was promised to be treated on equal footing with the other candidate countries.

 Turkey acted in good faith to fulfil all required criteria to become a full member of the EU. However this promise was ignored on more than one occasions.  One example of unequal treatment of Turkey is the admission of Cyprus to the EU. Both Turkey and Cyprus were candidate countries until May 2004. While the EU admitted Cyprus as full member before Cyprus solved its problems with Turkey, Turkey is treated differently and is asked to solve its problems with Cyprus before the accession negotiations could start for certain chapters.

 Many EU countries tried to explain this unequal treatment by putting the blame on an attitude adopted by Greece. In fact, Greece threatened the 14 members of the EU that it will veto the accession of 9 countries of the 5th enlargement in case Cyprus is not admitted to the EU. I do not consider this pretext as convincing, because if they wanted to oppose the accession of Cyprus, they could do so and leave it to Greece to explain to the remaining 9 countries why she vetoes their accession.

 

Turkey’s accession and the Cyprus problem

The most recent unjust treatment of Turkey is the linkage that the EU established between Cyprus problem and Turkey’s accession process to the EU. This linkage is contained in the EU Summit decision of December 2006.

 The Cyprus question is raised on two occasions in connection with Turkey’s accession process. One is the question of the diplomatic recognition of the Republic of Cyprus; the other is the question of the opening of the Turkish harbours and airports to the Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft.

a) Recognition of the Republic of Cyprus

Regarding the question of the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey is aware of the absurdity of negotiating with a group of countries, all of them holding veto right on Turkey’s accession, and Turkey not recognizing one of these countries.

However there is an absurdity on the EU side as well and Turkey would like the EU to admit this absurdity. The Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Kofi Annan drafted a plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem. This plan was supported by the EU. Furthermore the EU asked Turkey, to encourage Turkish Cypriots to vote in favour of this plan. Turkey followed the advise of the EU and encouraged the Turkish Cypriots to vote in favour of the Annan Plan. The Greek Cypriots voted against the plan and the plan is not implemented.

The absurdity in this exercise is the fact that the EU admitted as a member the Greek Cypriots who rejected the Plan that it was supported by the EU and denied the admission to the Turkish Cypriots who voted in favour of the Plan.

Turkey will recognize “the” Cyprus that is contained in the Annan plan, that is to say the re-united Cyprus which was going to be composed of two States: the Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and the Greek Cypriot Constituent State.

a)      Opening of Turkey’s harbours

On the second component, that is to say on the opening of Turkeys harbours, the EU attitude is even more questionable. The EU claims that Turkey’s refusal to open its harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships is in contradiction with the principle of the free flow of goods within the community. This perception is wrong since there is no impediment, at present, for the Greek Cypriot goods to enter the Turkish market.

i) Turkey’s obligations under the agreements

As to the Greek Cypriot ships to carry the goods, it is an entirely different matter, because the transport of goods is not part of the free movement of goods. Transport is a part of the free movement of services. In fact, when Turkey complained against the restrictions imposed on Turkish trucks to carry goods within the EU countries, the EU informed the Turkish authorities that the Turkish trucks will not be allowed to carry goods within the EU countries, because the free movement of services is not covered by the Additional Protocol.  We may therefore conclude that if the Additional Protocol does not cover free movement of services when we talk about Turkish trucks operating in the EU countries, it will not cover free movement of services when we talk of the Greek Cypriot ships that will enter Turkish harbours.

ii) Even if the Additional Protocol were to cover the free movement of services 

Even if the free movement of services were to be covered by the Additional Protocol, Turkey has yet another excuse not to open its harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships: As a reaction to the negative vote of the Greek Cypriots to the Annan Plan the EU Council adopted, one day after the referendum, a decision to lift the economic sanctions imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. 5 days later, when the Greek Cypriots joined the EU, they blocked the implementation of this decision, whereas a newly joining country has the legal obligation to accept the EU acquis that was accumulated until its accession. The decision to lift the economic restrictions on the Turkish Cypriots was adopted 5 days before the Greek Cypriots had actually joined the EU. Therefore the lifting of the economic restrictions is an obligation that is binding for all members of the Union including the Greek Cypriots.

Bearing this in mind Turkey, proposed a practical solution to this deadlock. The proposal consisted of lifting all restrictions imposed on the Turkish Cypriots at the same time as the opening of the Turkish harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships. Turkey made this proposal despite the fact that it had no obligation to open its harbours according to the Additional Protocol. Furthermore the EU has the legal obligation to put into force the Council decision to lift the economic restrictions imposed on the Turkish Cypriots. The EU has to do it even if Turkey did not offer any concession in exchange of it.

Since more than one and a half year, the EU could not overcome the objection of the Greek Cypriots to implement a decision that it has adopted before the Greek Cypriots became a member of the EU. The EU admits this responsibility. However it says that it is an internal commitment and parties outside the Union have no right to ask the EU to fulfil this commitment.

The continuation of the accession negotiations with Turkey

The negative attitude of the EU towards Turkey’s accession negotiations did not stop there. The EU Summit of December 2006 further diluted earlier decisions to start the accession negotiations with Turkey.

The EU decided to continue the accession negotiations that had started in October 2005 with Turkey, but made it subject to several conditions: The opening of accession negotiations under 8 chapters was going to be made conditional on the opening of Turkey’s harbours and airports to the Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft. The wording of the decision was as follows:  “Until the Commission confirms that Turkey has complied with its obligations stemming from the Additional Protocol”. The Additional Protocol that is referred to here is theprotocol annexed to the Association Agreement signed in 1964 between Turkey and the then EEC. The EU Council decided so despite the fact that the free movement of services is not covered by the Additional Protocol and that as a result of this Turkey has no obligation to open its harbours to the Greek Cypriots ships.

The Council did not stop there. It decided to start the negotiations in the remaining 24 chapters, but this time it introduced a closing benchmark: the temporary closing of the chapters were again going to be made be conditional on the opening of Turkey’s harbours and airports to the Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft.

Many observers in Turkey and abroad draw from this attitude of the EU the conclusion that Turkey has no other alternative but opening its harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships.

I have a slightly different perception. I am more inclined to believe that Cyprus is neither a positive nor a negative element in Turkey’s accession process to the EU. It is not part of the Copenhagen criteria that govern the accession negotiations. It is only an excuse that certain EU countries use to hide their real intention regarding Turkey’s accession. The real reason is the political will of the EU.

If the EU has the political will to admit Turkey as a full member, it has means to twist the arm of the Greek Cypriots. A Union of 500 million inhabitants will not allow to be taken hostage by a country of 600 000 people.

On the other hand, if the EU has no political will to admit Turkey as a member country, it will not admit Turkey even if Turkey agrees to give away Cyprus without any concession in return. Therefore, it is misleading to present Cyprus question as if it were the real impediment in Turkey’s accession process.

Could Turkey open the harbours?  

Having said this, we may also discuss what would be the significance of Turkey’s opening the harbours and the airfields to the Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft. Would it mean that Turkey recognises the Greek Cypriots as the representative of the entire population of Cyprus? Or would it mean the diplomatic recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. No it would not, for two reasons.

 1) The opening of the harbours of a country to the ships of a foreign country does not necessarily mean the diplomatic recognition of the visiting country by the host country. For instance, Turkey allows the Taiwanese ships to visit Turkish harbours, but diplomatically it does not recognize Taiwan.

 2) The Greek Cypriots ships were allowed to enter Turkish harbours until late 1980s. Since it did not mean at that time that Turkey recognised Greek Cypriots, it will not mean that Turkey recognises the Greek Cypriot if it allows today the Greek Cypriot ships to enter Turkish harbours.

 Therefore, it is not true that Turkey will be regarded as having recognized Cyprus in case it opens its harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships.

 Reasons for Drawing the Road Map 

Turkey fails to see a consistent attitude on the EU side.  As a result of this, Turkey grew weary and decided to follow a path different from the other negotiating countries in its accession process to the EU.  This path could be summarised as follows:  Parallel to the negotiations process which is underway despite several hurdles, Turkey has drawn up a programme of the reforms or legislative and administrative measures that it will carry out during the next 7 years.

 Once completed, Turkey believes that all requirements for full compliance with the EU acquis will be met.

The Content of the Road Map

The Road Map contains a calendar of legislative and administrative measures. The document covers all chapters to be negotiated with the EU. Laws to be passed, by-laws to be processed are contained in the document together with the name of the government body that will be in charge of the follow up action and the deadline by which the action will have to be completed.

Turkey drew up the calendar of the legislative and administrative actions according to its own needs and priorities. It also takes into account the opening or closing benchmarks of the chapters under discussion and the new additions to the acquis communautaire.

Amendments will be made in the document as it may be required by the screening reports.

The date of completion of a legislative or administrative action does not necessarily mean that the measure in question will be implemented immediately. The authority in charge of the implementation will be consulted and adjustment will be made according to their advice. The same criteria apply to the obligations of Turkey stemming from the Association Agreement between Turkey and the EU. Most of the measures to be taken during the period 2009-2023 will be completed by the end of 2011. However some of them may require transitional periods that extends beyond the date of Turkey’s accession to the EU.

One authority is indicated as responsible in most of the lists. However, other authorities have also their responsibility even if their names do not appear in the list.

The road map will be updated regularly according to the results obtained.

This power point shows one page of the document.

 

The Philosophy of the Road Map

The philosophy of the road map could be summarized as follows:  Turkey’s membership is a project that will materialize several years later. Therefore Turkey should not get entangled in the political environment that prevails at this point in time. What the Chancellor Angela Merkel says may be disappointing. What President Sarkozy says may be hurting. But we do not know what Sarkozy and Merkel will be doing when Turkey reaches the threshold of the EU.

We do not know what will be political landscape in the Middle East at that time. We do not know the role that Turkey will be able to play in this political landscape. We do not know whether the EU will still be a manageable Union and whether it will continue to be a centre of attraction. We do not know whether the Turkish public opinion will still be interested in joining the EU.

While so many questions are pending Turkey should not get entangled in the problems of today. It should look beyond the horizon and not lose sight of the main goal which is the improvement of the living standards of the Turkish people.

Conclusion

This is what the Road Map is doing. It focuses on what Turkey should do in order to improve the fundamental rights and freedoms, to introduce more participatory democracy, more transparent market economy, lesser corruption, more predictable country and higher per capita income.

There is no irreversible concession to be made by Turkey in this document. After Turkey achieves all what is contained in the document, it may become irrelevant whether Turkey joins the EU or not.

Will this full compliance make Turkey automatically eligible for full membership? No. It will not make, but this is not a rule applicably to Turkey alone. The full membership of any negotiating country is subject to the unanimous ratification of all member countries of the EU. The member countries are free to choose how they will finalize the ratification process, that is to say whether they will do it in their respective parliaments or through referendum. France has already announced that, beginning with Turkey’s accession, all new enlargements will be submitted to referendum in France. Austria stated that it would follow suit. The other member countries did not yet spell out their position on this subject.

As a result of this the leverage of the EU on Turkey is exposed to constant erosion. 

 

(1) ROAD MAP FOR TURKEY

TEXT OF THE SPEECH

delivered by

Mr. YAŞAR YAKIŞ,

Chairman of the European Union Commission of the Turkish Parliament

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs

during the

“INTERNATIONAL SUMMER COURSE-ANKARA SEMINAR PROGRAM”

Ankara, 10 August 2007

(2)

ROAD MAP FOR TURKEY

Introduction

I – Helsinki Summit

II – Turkey’s Accession and the Cyprus Problem

       1 – Recognition of the Republic of Cyprus

       2 – Opening of Turkey’s harbours

a)      Turkey’s obligations under the Additional Protocol

b)      Even if the Additional Protocol were to cover the free movement of services

III – Continuation of the accession negotiations with Turkey

IV – Could Turkey open the harbours

V – Reasons for Drawing the Road Map

VI – Philosophy of the Road Map

Conclusion

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