European Council Decided to Open Accession Negotiations with Turkey

17.12.2004 | 14:40

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Brussels, 17 December 2004 - The Brussels European Council that ended today discussed the enlargement of the European Union, the fight against terrorism, financial perspectives, the EU drugs strategy 2005-2012, and external relations. The European heads of state also had a meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The European Council noted that the accession of ten new member states has been successfully completed and expressed its determination to continue the enlargement process, thus contributing to Europe´s prosperity, stability, security and unity.

Relying on the European Commission report and recommendation, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey, as Turkey sufficiently meets the Copenhagen political criteria. The negotiations will begin during the presidency of the United Kingdom on 3 October 2005. At the same time the European heads of state and government expect Turkey to continue the reform process and its active efforts to enforce legislation. The European Council also welcomed Turkey´s decision to sign the protocol regarding the adoption of the customs union, or the Ankara Agreement extending it to the ten new Member States.

According to Prime Minister Juhan Parts, Estonia supported opening negotiations with Turkey. "The government of Turkey has shown determination in the last few years to implement extensive political and economic reforms. I believe that the decision of the European Union to open accession negotiations with Turkey in 2005 contributes to the future development of Turkey and improvement of Turkey's relations with Cyprus. We know from experience that fulfilling all the accession conditions is a very difficult and time-consuming process," said Prime Minister Parts.

The heads of state and government of the European Union expressed satisfaction with the successful completion of accession negotiations with Bulgaria and Romania and called for the finalisation of the Accession Treaty, aiming at its signing in April 2005. As regards Croatia, the European Council invited the European Commission to prepare a framework for accession negotiations aiming at opening negotiations in April 2005.

Regarding the fight against terrorism, the European Council is of the opinion that concrete results must be achieved in seven areas. These include practical and operational cooperation, judicial cooperation, border and document security, intelligence cooperation, combating terrorist financing, strengthening civil protection capacity, and counter-terrorism cooperation with third countries. The European Council believes that democracy and respect for fundamental rights must not be allowed to be undermined by
terrorism.

The European Council is of the opinion that political agreement regarding the 2007-2013 financial framework of the European Union should be reached by June 2005.

The European Council also adopted a 2005-2012 drugs strategy. The plan calls for the European Commission to present early in 2005 a specific action plan for implementation of the strategy in 2005-2008.

As regards external relations, the European Council discussed the situation in Ukraine and the Middle-East, transatlantic relations, and the European Security Strategy.

The European Council adopted a separate declaration on Ukraine commending the leaders and people of Ukraine for having found a peaceful solution to the political crisis. At the same time the European Council calls on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that the rerun of the second round of presidential elections is held in accordance with OSCE and the Council of Europe Standards. The European leaders stressed the strategic importance of Ukraine as a neighbour and partner of the EU, and welcomed the recent endorsement of the Ukrainian action plan by the Council. The European Council also looks
forward to concrete proposals by High Representative Javier Solana and the European Commission for ways to strengthen cooperation with Ukraine, making full use of the action plan.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Kristiina Ojuland, the action plan provides a good basis and opportunity for Ukraine to strengthen relations with the European Union.

In the declaration on the Middle East, the European Council encourages Israel and the Palestinian Authority to co-operate closely, including in the area of security, looking ahead to the forthcoming Palestinian presidential elections. The European Union will support the election process financially, technically and politically, and help to verify that the election process is democratic, free and fair.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Kristiina Ojuland, Palestinian leaders have to show responsibility in setting up institutions and ensure their regular operation. "It is important that the legitimate leadership
continue to move determinedly towards ensuring peace in the Middle East and that democratic presidential elections take place on 9 January 2005 as scheduled," said Ojuland.

Yours faithfully,

Erki Peegel
Press Officer to the Government
Tel: 693 5792, 51 65808

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