By Sevim Küçükkoşum, Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey should take brave steps to resolve the problems of its Kurdish population as it strives to draw up a new constitution, Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal has said.
Sovndal, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said during his visit to Ankara May 25 that his country is aware of Turkeys new work on press freedom, and added that those efforts are highly brave.
These steps are not just for Turkeys accession to the EU, but for its own sake, Sovndal said. We think it is important for Turkey and also important for Turkeys EU relationship to be brave on this agenda.
Denmark closely is closely following the constitution-drafting process in Turkey, the minister said, adding that his country is very much in favor of getting Turkey closer to the EU.
Meanwhile, the EU agreed on a draft text that will give the European Commission the necessary mandate to start a visa liberalization dialogue with Turkey. All of the EU states have agreed to the mandate, but the approval could take place no sooner than the second half of June due to the French elections, a Turkish diplomat told Hürriyet Daily News.
The EU will hold its interior ministers meeting on June 7, and its ministers of justice meeting on June 8, at which the visa liberalization issue will also be discussed, but the EU states could hardly declare a decision at those meetings, since the current interim French government will not cast a vote until June 17, the diplomat added.
The most important acquisition for Ankara in the final text is a statement that the dialogue would be for visa liberalization with the EU, instead of visa facility, the diplomat noted.
As opening a new chapter in Turkeys talks with the EU during the Danish EU presidency seemed difficult, the presidency has focused on visa liberalization, another Turkish official told the Daily News.
Turkey and the EU had been through a period when the relationship had been a bit frozen, nothing really moved... But we want to get it moving again, Sovndal said during his visit to Ankara yesterday. We want to help to get out of the deadlock the relationship has been in for too long, Sovndal said in a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu.
However, the minister dashed hopes that Turkey could open another chapter in its EU talks before the Greek Cypriots take over the presidency in July, saying that there was not enough time and they do not want to affect the French parliamentary elections on June 17.
Davutoğlu, for his part, said Turkey expects the Danish presidency of the EU to play a leading role in the settlement of the visa exemption conflict before it hands over its position this July.
Denmark has always played a leading role in this process, and we now expect its support on a symbolically important matter for us, the visa issue, Davutoğlu said.