Turkey-EU dialogue meeting hears proposal for joint foreign policy mechanism
Top Turkish and European Union officials gathered in Istanbul yesterday for their first political dialogue meeting. The meeting at the Ciragan Palace was attended by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Chief Negotiator for EU Talks Egemen Bagis, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stephan Fule. During the gathering, participants stressed that Turkey and the EU have overlapping visions of Turkey becoming a full member of the 27-member bloc at the end of the ongoing accession negotiations, with Ankara offering to establish a new mechanism to ensure weekly and even daily exchanges of views on foreign policy between Turkey and Brussels. Speaking afterwards at a joint press conference, Davutoglu called the proposed mechanism the biggest plank of Turkey and the EU's common vision. For his part, Bagis said holding the meeting in Istanbul on the shores of the Bosporus symbolizes global peace. The EU doesn't deserve an image based on debate over the "digestion" of new members, he said. Bagis also said that this September's referendum on a major government constitutional reform package would be a milestone for Turkey. Also speaking to reporters, Fule characterized reform efforts as the engine of Turkey's accession process, calling the constitutional reform package a step in the right direction. For her part, Ashton stressed the EU's determination to fight terrorism, and condemned a recent wave of deadly terrorist PKK attacks. In related news, EU President Herman Van Rompuy, who was known before taking office late last year for opposing Turkey's EU accession, yesterday said, "Accession negotiations with Turkey can no longer be opposed. However, the accession process is a tough one and many problems may come up. It's not my job to block Turkey's accession process."