Erdogan: Turkey's resolve for EU reforms is as strong as ever
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday hosted a luncheon at the Prime Ministry residence for European Union member countries' ambassadors serving in Ankara. "In recent years, Turkey has taken significant steps in democratization and human rights," Erdogan said in his speech to the luncheon. Reiterating Ankara's firm objection to certain European leaders' use of Turkey's EU bid as domestic political fodder, Erdogan said there had been no decline in the government's will to make more reforms. Criticizing the "privileged partnership" proposal of French and German leaders in lieu of Turkey's full EU membership, Erdogan said such statements and positions dampen the Turkish people's enthusiasm for EU membership and reforms. But he expressed a firm will for more reforms no matter the actions of Europeans. Erdogan said that Turkey is taking steps towards EU full membership with determination, citing as recent examples the appointment of Egemen Bagis as Turkey's chief EU talks negotiator, the adoption of a national program, the new TRT channel broadcasting in Kurdish, Parliament's new gender equality commission, and new income tax and citizenship laws. On the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said that a settlement would be in the best interests of all concerned parties, adding that Turkey expects its European friends to prevent the Greek Cypriot administration from trying to delay or obstruct a settlement.