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Turkish Weekly - June 28, 2013

Italian FM Bonino said EU should have already opened Chapters 23-24 on justice and respect for fundamental rights

The European Union (EU) should not freeze the negotiations with Turkey for EU accession, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said on Thursday.
Speaking at the Senate of the Republic, Italian FM Bonino touched upon the recent international reactions regarding Taksim Gezi Park incidents in Turkey and Turkey-EU relations.

She reminded her meetings with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, calling upon finding a moderate and common solution for Gezi Park protests and incidents.

"As the EU goal towards Turkey's integration to the Union weakened, Turkish reforms also decelerated. The EU should not freeze the accession negotiations with Turkey if it wants to affect Turkey's road to the EU membership. Europe shouldn't yield to an instinctive reaction to Turkey in the face of the protests," referring to her talks in Luxembourg on Monday with her European counterparts at the council meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Recalling the Senate that the EU opened Chapter 22 with Turkey, Bonino noted that "I observed that we should also have already opened Chapters 23 and 24 on justice and respect for fundamental rights. It would have been a more effective way to influence the policies of the Turkish government and send a message to those who are demonstrating for their rights."

Bonino also stressed the Italian support to Turkey, saying, "The Italian government will continue to make the Turkish government aware of it to highlight what happened, including the cases of violence against women, which today we have not had officially confirmed".

Italy's Bonino reiterated her previous remarks that "Taksim is not Tahrir," saying "Turkey has democratic roots back in history with its government and the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan winning the elections for the third time. It is natural in democracies that there is always a minority that does not support the government's policies."

"We should not give in to excessive pessimism," she told urging Turkey to continue related reforms.

She underlined that Italy is a true friend of Turkey and described the opening of Chapter 22 as a strategic decision for Turkey's and EU's interests. "Our goal is obvious: to integrate a full democratic Turkey into the EU gradually," said Bonino.

Regarding the bilateral economic relations, she mentioned the 1,000 Italian companies in Turkey. "Turkey is a strategic partner of Italy," she said. "The procedures for European stability are essential also for our investments and economic interests. This should be said openly and with full transparency".

Resuming EU-Turkey accession talks was postponed on Tuesday until October upon a request from Germany.

Foreign ministers of the EU agreed on Tuesday to open Chapter 22 at the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Luxembourg, stressing the intergovernmental conference with Turkey would take place following the presentation of the commission's annual report on Turkey's progress in justice and political rights, which is expected in October.

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