INTERVIEW WITH AMBASSADOR VOLKAN BOZK R, TURKEY'S PERMANENTE DELEGATE TO THE EU : FULL STEAM AHEAD FORaTURKEY IN ITS PREPARATIONS TO JOIN THE EU

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The EU has taken a decision to carry out a partial suspension of Turkey's accession negotiations. How is your government responding to this decision?

In a bid to maintain the current pace of preparations for Turkey's accession to the EU, the Turkish government decided to continue in-depth work on all the 32 chapters. Recently, all the ministers were obliged to come up with plans for the 2007-2013 period, providing a long-term work agenda for all 32 chapters. This document will serve as a guideline for the years ahead. So, we'll be able to continue preparations for integration with the EU, even in those eight areas which are affected. When the EU decides to open any new chapter in the future, we hope to be well prepared for it. We hope to avoid wasting time before the EU decides to waive the partial suspension introduced in December.

What are your expectations for the German Presidency of the EU? How many chapters does Turkey hope to open in the coming months?

The German Presidency proved to be well prepared. It also seems to be a powerful presidency. It gives us hope that all the other plans and promises regarding our negotiations will be fulfilled by the German Presidency. We've recently received letters inviting us to submit our position papers in Statistics (18) and Economic and Monetary Policy (17) chapters. Our priority is to open as many chapters as possible within the coming months.

For the sake of argument, let's just imagine that the EU took a decision yesterday to open direct trade with Turkish Cypriots. Would Turkey decide to open its ports for traffic from the Republic of Cyprus in such circumstances?

The decision of the European Council on 26 April 2004 was to "put an end" to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. There was no conditionality attached to this decision. The decision of the Council was taken by the 15 member states before the enlargement of 2004. It goes without saying that the new members including the Greek Cypriots should accept this decision and not try to impose their own political agenda. Protocol Number 10 clearly stipulates that the economic development of Northern Cyprus should not be impeded. The Council Conclusion on the implementation of the April 2004 Council decisions confirms that there is no conditionality in return for direct trade regulation. Therefore, it would be wrong to link this issue with any other matter. The priority of the Turkish Cypriots is not to have a document, simply containing direct trade elements, but a more substantive one to put an end to their isolation. …