At a press conference at the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey in Ankara, Piri previewed her upcoming report on Turkey’s EU accession process.
“The accession process is not just about a closer economic relationship. Turkey and the EU obviously share strong mutual economic interests, but accession is more than just economic cooperation. It is about developing a system of values that can consolidate further the process of democratization in Turkish society and create a democratic space for all the citizens of Turkey.”
There is a clear commitment to the EU accession process in Turkey, both at the political and public levels, Piri said. “But Turkey should engage in a number of important reforms, such as the reform of the judiciary, but also a reformed legal framework for fundamental human rights. The political opposition should be included in the reform process in a constructive way."
“Turkey is a very important independent actor in a volatile region. I think it is important to stress that nobody expects, at this stage, full alignment with the EU's foreign policy. However we should work together in the same direction to create synergies where possible, and, in this regard, there is clearly room for frequent high-level dialogue and consultation between the EU and Turkey on foreign policy.”
Piri said that she will present a first draft resolution for Turkey's EU accession, and lead an open a debate in the EU parliament early in 2015. Voting will take place in the spring.
Commenting on the recently passed judicial reform law, which extends the powers of law enforcement, Piri said that it is important to employ civilian oversight in this context.
“Media freedom and media pluralism are also important to the EU, important to any democratic society, and should be respected. The free press is an important part of any properly functioning democracy, one with respect of the rule of law. Press freedom in general will also play an important role in my report,” Piri said.
Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters, and this involves harmonizing legislation with the European Union and the adoption of Union standards in order to join the EU.
So far, 14 chapters have been opened for negotiation, while 17 remain blocked, and a further four have yet to be discussed. Only one new chapter has been opened in the past three years.