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Turkey and the European Neighborhood Policy 29 août 2011

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey) Monday, August 29, 2011

Stefan Fuele *

The European Neighborhood Policy, or ENP, seeks to strengthen the partnership between the European Union and the countries and societies of the neighborhood and to promote stability, prosperity and security in this neighborhood.

As a country negotiating its accession to the European Union, Turkey shares the EU’s policy goals and values. Turkey is a close partner of the EU and an important regional player. I believe that Turkey and the EU can develop important synergies to create mutual benefits through their interactions with the neighborhood they have in common.

In 2010-2011, the EU carried out a review of the ENP, which became even more pertinent following the historical changes in the southern Mediterranean this year, which has led to a new policy response to our changing neighborhood.

The new approach is based on the principle of “more for more,” that is, more EU support for more reform and democratization in partner countries.

The ENP is also based on mutual accountability and conditionality which works both ways. If a partner country wishes to obtain greater support from the EU, to participate in the EU internal market, to ensure greater mobility for its citizens, then it will have to demonstrate clear commitments to a number of significant political reforms.

Conversely, the EU will be accountable to its partners for delivering on its offers of support for political and economic reform. This includes not only financial support, but also improved and better-managed mobility of people as well as trade integration. Ultimately, the EU hopes to conclude with each partner deep and comprehensive free trade areas, which will allow economic integration into the EU single market.

We will work not only with governments, but also with civil society and peoples. We will look at the creation of a new civil society facility and of a European Endowment for Democracy to support the development of a vibrant civil society and of working political parties as a solid foundation for democracy throughout our neighborhood.

We will adapt our instruments to make them more flexible and more focused, and we will allocate, in 2011-2013, up to 1.2 billion euros in grant money to support the new approach. This is in addition to funds already earmarked for our neighborhood in 2011-2013, which amount to 5.7 billion.

 In June, the EU decided to appoint an EU special representative for the southern Mediterranean. The mandate of the new EUSR will be to enhance the European Union’s effectiveness, presence and visibility in the region and in relevant international fora, including through a close coordination with relevant local partners and international organizations.

Turkey’s foreign policy principle is often described as a policy of “zero problems with neighbors.” Its new regional vision is based on a common security zone, high-level political dialogue, economic interdependence, and cultural cooperation. Like the EU’s European Neighborhood Policy, Turkey’s foreign policy seeks to ensure the region’s stability, prosperity and security, for the benefit of all.

Like the EU, Turkey needs stability in its neighborhood, including a secure supply of energy resources. Turkey will be a transit country for the new Southern Energy Corridor of the EU, which will need to rely on a steady supply of gas from our common neighbors.

Economically, Turkey is a success story. Thanks to its robust economic development, Turkey is expanding its trade and investment relations with its neighbors. Growing economic integration between the EU and Turkey – thanks in particular to the customs union – as well as between Turkey and its neighbors, will promote prosperity and stability across our common neighborhood.

Turkey could be an inspiration for the whole Middle East showing that a Muslim society can have a functioning democracy, with a vibrant domestic political debate, full transparency and accountability.

As an example, Turkey can have a hugely positive impact on Syria, a fellow Sunni Muslim country which shares a long border with Turkey. Turkey could be an important source of inspiration for Syria’s future.

In Libya, Turkey is playing a major role, including hosting the contact group meeting in Istanbul on July 15 and proposing a road map for the resolution of the conflict. It is important that EU and Turkey start working on the “day after” the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in coordination with the United Nations, other international organizations and the United States. Turkey can play a very important role helping the new Libyan authorities set up an effective government and a working democracy.

As I see it, Turkey can also be a bridge between Israel and the Arab world. I hope the current difficulties in Turkish-Israeli relations can soon be overcome.

Furthermore, Turkey plays an important role for the stability and security of the South Caucasus region. The opening of all borders in that region would provide new business opportunities and enhance prosperity of all and should be our common endeavor.

There is clear scope for Turkey and the EU to further develop cooperation and to intensify policy coordination in the southern Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, and I will seek every opportunity to discuss our policies with my Turkish counterpart. The new strategic dialogue between the EU and Turkey will also play an important role in this regard. Closer policy coordination in this area will help bring Turkey and the EU even closer together and will improve the impact of our policies on our common neighborhood, to further our mutual interests.

* Stefan Fuele is the commissioner responsible for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy. The original version of this article was published in the Summer 2011 issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly. This is an abbreviated version of the article. For more information, please visit www.turkishpolicy.com


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