Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2004-12-13-Speech-1-140"

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"Mr President, Turkey is a large country straddling the border between Europe and Asia in an area of particular geopolitical sensitivity. It is in the interests of the Union to integrate Turkey firmly into European structures, and it is evidently in the interests of Turkey to bind itself into those structures. That is why Turkey applied for membership many years ago. There are clear criteria for accession to the Union. These were laid down at the Copenhagen summit more than ten years ago, in 1993. A candidate for membership must fulfil a set of defined political and economic criteria and must accept the established body of European law. The Union is likewise bound to do its homework. It must be ready for enlargement and must not put its previous progress in jeopardy. A few weeks ago, the Commission presented another progress report on Turkey, recording some remarkable achievements, particularly as regards the applicant country’s fulfilment of political accession criteria. Progress has been made towards the establishment of democracy; in particular, the political power of the armed forces has been curbed in favour of the civil authority. There have also been encouraging developments towards enshrinement of the rule of law. Corruption, on the other hand, remains a major problem, and people are still being tortured in Turkish prisons. In the realm of fundamental rights, the report once again made scathing criticisms, stating, for example, that things were in a bad way with regard to religious freedom in Turkey, not to mention the numerous minority issues that remain unresolved. The Commission went on, however, to conclude from this very mixed progress report that the time had come to launch formal accession talks while conceding that derogations, possibly of a long-term nature, would have to be made from the rules of the common market in respect of crucial membership obligations. This is a case of applying double standards and speaking with a forked tongue. Either Turkey has done its homework and meets the political criteria or it does not; and if we have no intention of granting Turkey all the rights arising from membership, we should make that clear without delay and start to consider a privileged partnership instead of obsessively pursuing this notion of accession. At the weekend the Council is required to take a very important decision on this matter. I hope it will abide by the rules that the selfsame institution, the European Council, set in Copenhagen ten years ago for this eventuality."@en1

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