17 November 2004
LUXEMBOURG - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the European Union (EU) member states would also undergo a test (during the European Council to be held) on December 17th (when they are expected to decide whether and when to open full membership negotiations with Turkey).
Erdogan and Luxembourg`s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker held a joint press conference after their meeting.
PM Erdogan considered his meeting with Juncker as fruitful, and said that he saw how positive Luxembourg`s perspective on December 17th and the process after that day was.
Erdogan said, ``Luxembourg will be the acting President of the EU when the decision will be made (by EU member states) about our negotiation process on December 17th, and the first six months of the negotiation process will begin within 2005. To this end, our meeting is very important. We discussed Turkey-EU relations, Turkey`s position regarding Greece and Cyprus. And, we exchanged views about the expectations of not only Turkey, but also the EU member states in the coming process.``
``Turkey has fulfilled Copenhagen political criteria. Fulfilling its duties is important for Turkey. And, now the EU member states will undergo a test on December 17th. I think they will successfully pass this test,`` Erdogan noted.
Erdogan stated that the negotiation process would begin within 2005 as Juncker said, and noted that how long this process would last was unknown. He said that what was important was to become a full member in the end of that negotiation process.
``We don`t want special treatment. What we expect is to be treated just as the other candidate countries are treated,`` Erdogan said and asked the EU to treat fairly to Turkey.
Erdogan stated that if the EU was to become a global force, it should assure compromise among civilizations, and stressed that such a compromise could be reached with accession of Turkey.
It would be seen whether the EU was really an address for compromise of civilizations after December 17th, when the EU member states would decide whether to open negotiations with Turkey, Erdogan said.
Erdogan said, ``I wish (situation of) Turkey will be evaluated without this matter is made a tool for internal politics``, and added that such an evaluation would further improve relations between Turkey and EU.
Luxembourg`s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said that he believed that a date would be set for Turkey on December 17th to start full membership negotiations.
Juncker said Luxembourg wishes for the negotiations to start in the first six months of 2005.
``A solution like privileged partnership is not an option. This will mean discrimination,`` said Juncker, noting that full membership process could take 10-13 years. Juncker said prejudices against Turkey would be eliminated in Europe within this period, and stated that, ``our final target is Turkey`s full membership.``
Pointing out that Turkey made a very big progress, Juncker said it was important that negotiation process should not be interrupted.
Asked if Turkey would withdraw its membership application in case negotiation process fails to start on December 17th, Erdogan said, ``the only condition was fulfillment of Copenhagen criteria. We have met all the conditions. Turkey has made its homework. EU member countries will go through an examination from now on.``
Replying to a question whether Turkey would recognize Southern Cyprus till December 17th and withdraw Turkish soldiers from the island, Erdogan said, ``there is no such issue on our agenda on December 17th. We wait for the negotiations to start. Together with our western friends, we have fulfilled our responsibilities within the scope of Annan plan. We have voted `yes` and they have voted `no`. Those questions should be asked to Southern Cyprus authorities.``