No: 291, 8 November 2023, Press Release Regarding the European Commission 2023 Report on Türkiye

Republic Of Türkiye Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 08.11.2023

Today, the European Commission published the 2023 Enlargement Strategy and the Country Reports drafted for all candidate and potential candidate countries, including Türkiye. It is worrisome for the future of our continent, which faces many threats, that the EU yet again maintains its unjust and biased approach to our country, despite this being the 25th Report of the Commission on Türkiye.

We categorically reject unfounded claims and unjust criticisms, particularly on the political criteria and the Chapter on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. Despite our continuous efforts, Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom, and Security) remain unopened due to political obstruction by a single member since 2009. The unfair allegations against Türkiye on various fundamental rights issues - issues which are contentious even among Member States - highlights the insincerity of this approach and a clear double-standard.

Blocking the existing high-level dialogue and cooperation mechanisms on foreign policy, regional developments, security, defense, and sectoral issues with candidate country Türkiye, and at the same time, claiming a decrease in Türkiye's alignment rate on such critical policy areas. This is nothing less than a contradiction.

It is also claimed that Türkiye failed to meet its obligations under the Customs Union, and that this constitutes an obstacle to bilateral trade relations. This allegation is misleading, as the EU's politicization of the negotiations aimed at updating the Customs Union is the main obstacle in this regard.

We in fact take it as praise attempts by the EU to criticize Türkiye‘s principled stance regarding the Hamas-Israel War. The EU is on the wrong side of the history in the face of a massacre that is reminiscent of the darkness of medieval times. The EU must remember that policies based on universal values, international law, and humanitarian principles cannot be limited to Ukraine or other regions of Europe but must be pursued universally, including the Middle East.

As usual, the segments of the Report addressing the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Cyprus issues reflect the unlawful, unrealistic, and maximalist views of the Greek/Greek Cypriot duo and the exclusionary attitude ignoring the rightful policies of Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Again, this clearly reveals the EU's biased and unfair attitude under the disguise of solidarity. We avail of this opportunity to emphasize that the format for the settlement of the Cyprus issue includes only the two sides on the Island, three Guarantors, and the United Nations. The EU acted as an observer with the parties' consent in the past and therefore has no right to get involved in the matter. The EU's statements, which unconditionally defend the Greek Cypriot arguments on a possible settlement, are neither valuable nor binding for Türkiye and the Turkish Cypriot side. Indeed, these statements only disrupt the settlement process rather than contribute to it.

As a reflection of the committed policies Türkiye pursues, the Report emphasizes the advanced level of development of Türkiye's economy and its capacity to cope with competitive pressures and market forces within the Union, and also makes reference to the fact that Türkiye has aligned with the EU standards in many areas by harmonizing its legislation with the EU acquis since the Customs Union came into force.

Within the current internetional conjuncture, the EU must pursue an enlargement policy based on fairness and inclusion. The EU acknowledges that the need for strengthening Türkiye-EU relations in every area is now more critical than ever before. Türkiye remains eager to develop more robust relations with the EU and enhance cooperation in line with our shared interests as long as the EU engages in a spirit of cooperation and dialogue, refraining from unilateral and unjust criticism. Türkiye's candidacy should not be confined to rhetoric; our status should be reflected in the EU's actions, discourse, and steps.

The solidarity displayed by the EU during the difficult times we experienced in the aftermath of the earthquake on 6 February 2023 is valued and respected. Based on that same spirit of solidarity and cooperation, we call on the EU to remove the obstacles before Türkiye's accession process, assume more responsibility, and comply with the principle of pacta sunt servanda.


Başak Türkoğlu Ambassador
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