Ankara, 23 May 2013
PR PCE 105
Remarks by President of the European Council
Herman Van Rompuy
after his meeting with Prime Minister of Turkey
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Let me first of all say that it is both a pleasure and a privilege to visit Ankara. And I would
like to thank Prime Minister Erdoğan for his invitation and kind hospitality. Earlier today, I
also had the pleasure of meeting President Gül.
Allow me briefly to highlight a few key points from today's meetings: first and foremost,
we all want to strengthen further the ties between Turkey and the European Union. Turkey
is a candidate to the EU. We share geography and history. Member States and Turkey are
together members of numerous international organisations, including NATO. We have
common interests, broad economic cooperation and profound people-to-people relations.
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Ankara Agreement of Association with the
European Union. We should use it to rebuild momentum in the accession process. Last
December, all 27 heads of state and government of the European Union reconfirmed their
commitment to Turkey's accession process. And we should shortly see the opening of a
new chapter in the negotiations, the first since 2010. I hope more will follow soon.
We welcome Turkey's continued reform efforts. Significant progress has been made
already, including in judicial reforms and with the broad-based work that continues on
constitutional reform in the Parliament. In this context, I recall the importance that the EU
attaches to fundamental rights and freedoms, including the freedom of expression.
Visa liberalisation is an important goal on our immediate agenda. It is a step that will knit
our societies closer together. It will provide fresh and significant momentum to our
relations. I trust that the signature by Turkey of the readmission agreement with the
European Union would allow us to advance quickly through the roadmap leading to visa
free travel for Turkish citizens.
P R E S S
Dirk De Backer - Spokesperson of the President - +32 (0)2 281 9768 - +32 (0)497 59 99 19
Preben Aamann - Deputy Spokesperson of the President - +32 (0)2 281 2060 - +32 (0)476 85 05 43
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Allow me to commend the Prime Minister for the courage and vision he has shown
promoting a solution process to end the threat of terror from the PKK. This is the best
chance in a generation to resolve a conflict, which has claimed far too many lives. The EU
fully supports these efforts.
Turkey's dynamic economy contributes to the prosperity of the entire European continent.
Turkey remains a valuable part of Europe's competitiveness. Last year (2012) our trade
totalled € 115 billion. The EU is Turkey's biggest trading partner. And Turkey is the EU’s
sixth biggest trading partner. Almost 75% of foreign direct investment that flows into
Turkey - with a strong high-technology component - comes from the EU. And Turkey is an
important member of and partner in G20, alongside the EU.
Turkey is a key international partner and ally for the European Union. Its regional role and
active involvement in its wider neighbourhood deserve special acknowledgement and is
irreplaceable. We are committed to further enhance our political dialogue on foreign policy
issues of common interest, such as developments in North Africa, the Middle East, the
Gulf, the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Southern Caucasus and the Horn of
I am equally grateful for the exchanges we have had on the terrible crisis which affects
Syria and on our efforts to work for a solution. Turkey is bearing the brunt of the
consequences of this tragedy. It has opened its borders to those fleeing violence. It is
leading in humanitarian support and playing a key role in efforts to find a political solution.
The EU supports a restart of the Geneva talks. Again, I wish to commend the Prime
Minister, as well as the Turkish people, for the solidarity and vision.
The despicable terrorist attacks in Reyhanli, which the European Union firmly condemns,
are a clear reminder of the dangers involved and the price Turkey is paying. Let me
reiterate in this regard the full solidarity of the European Union and its citizens. We will
continue working with Turkey as well as with other partners and allies in order to
re-establish peace and stability in Syria. The European Union will maintain its important
humanitarian contribution and stands ready to support reconstruction efforts.
I also have to reiterate the importance of finding a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus
issue. The EU supports a comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus conflict
within the UN framework, in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions
and in line with the principles on which the Union is founded.
To conclude, my visit today symbolises the importance the European Union attaches to its
relations with Turkey in all its dimensions. The goal of the European Union is to further
reinvigorate this relationship and to advance substantially the various processes in which it
is reflected, including the accession process.
Therefore, I am honoured that the Prime Minister has accepted my invitation to come to
Brussels in the coming months in order to follow up on today’s fruitful discussions and
continue to progress on our common agenda. Thank you, tesekkür ederim.
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