Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

Turkey and the EU must work and fight global problems together

20.02.2018 / Adana

Speaking at the 37th meeting of the Turkey-EU Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) TOBB President and the EU - Turkey JCC Co-Chairman M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that Turkey and the EU, with their long-established relationships, must work together as never before against global problems.​

37th meeting of the Turkey-EU Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) was held in Adana with the participations of TOBB President and EU - Turkey JCC Co-Chairman Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, directors of EU-JCC Member NGOs, EU representatives and Minister of EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik. TOBB President and the EU - Turkey JCC Co-Chairman Hisarcıklıoğlu gave a speech at the opening of the meeting, stating that Turkey-EU relations become more important than ever. Turkey and all EU countries are facing common challenges such as the influx of refugees and illegal migration, terrorism, cyberattacks, rising protectionist tendencies in international trade, climate change energy security. Hisarcıklıoğlu said that no country can fight alone against these problems.

- Progress must be made in membership negotiations

TOBB President and EU - Turkey JCC Co-Chairman Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The generation before us fought WWII. As a result we have been left with the most important peace project of the world, the European Union. Now our responsibility is to create a more prosperous, safer and more peaceful world for future generations. We, the EU-Turkey JCC Turkish wing, have come here with an extremely strong team. We are here as the president of our four trade union confederations, the president of the chambers of trade, the president of our farmers' organizations, our employer's umbrella organization, women's organizations. We are here to show the importance we put on cooperation and dialogue in Turkey-EU accession process and Turkey-EU relations. In the process we are in, the top priority of Turkey-EU relations is to ensure progress in the accession negotiations. The accession process is essentially the basis for EU-Turkey relations. Again, there are areas we need to be in close cooperation and dialogue with such as economy, social policy, energy, fighting terrorism, Syrian refugees and foreign policy. In the same way, customs union and visa liberation issues should be included among our areas of joint effort. In economic terms, Turkey and Europe are intertwined.

Turkey is Europe's 6th largest economy. Turkey is the EU's 4th largest export market. Turkey is the 5th country EU most imports to. Conversely, the EU is Turkey's largest export market. The EU ranked first in terms of foreigner investors in Turkey. In short, our economic relations have deepened immensely.

Turkey and the EU economies, are linked together via many strong bonds. Relations with the EU have been a guiding influence in Turkey's economic and political transformation efforts.”

- A compass for the transformation process

Stating that relations with the EU have been a compass for Turkey's transformation process, M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that, as EU-Turkey JCC, they’ve always given their support and contribution for the transformation efforts of Turkey. Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that they consider Turkey's EU relations as a strategic priority, “In a nutshell, the EU-Turkey JCC is a symbol of the community's support for the EU integration efforts of all sectors.”

Underlining that EU membership process requires comprehensive reforms, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We have achieved fundamental reforms in the fields of law, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and market economy. We have deficiencies. There's a lot of work to do. There are many steps to be taken. We are aware of this. We have to undertake these reforms anyway.

We have to do these for our own people, for our own economy. We know that Turkey has the determination to carry out these reforms. The visa issue of the EU-Turkey JCC is always among our priorities. We must complete the visa liberation dialogue as soon as possible. We are very happy that your government has completed the necessary work and presented it to the European Commission. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the process. Now we need to get results.”

- The Customs Union must be modernized

M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu emphasized that negotiations to modernize the Customs Union should be initiated and emphasized that it was not right to postpone this issue for political reasons. Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that this modernization would be beneficial for both the EU and Turkey. TOBB President said, “We, as the EU-Turkey JCC, need to emphasize our strong commitment to these issues.

Another important issue is a strong stance against terrorism. Turkey's fight against terrorist organizations such as PKK-PYD-YPG, FETO and DAESH, both domestically and internationally, unfortunately, does not see enough support in Europe. We want to see both NATO alliance and the European countries with which we are in partnership with, support our rightful and legitimate struggle against terrorism. Essentially, the legal and moral responsibility of the Alliance and its partners requires this. Finally, I would like to express our great pleasure in addressing the issues on the agenda the EU-Turkey at a higher level at the summit on March 25. Turkey-EU relations are deep-rooted; based on sound foundation. We, as all segments of society believe efforts for the development of Turkey-EU relations should be continued. As Turkey-EU JCC, we will continue our work in Turkey to make it a EU member.

- EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Çelik

“Some of our friends who declare support for us while we fight DAESH fail to show the same support while we are fighting against the Syrian branches of PKK, the PYD and YPG,” said European Union (EU) Minister and Chief Negotiator Ömer Çelik and went on, “We need to be consistent about terrorist organizations.”

Çelik, emphasized that Turkey is conducting a comprehensive anti-terror operation in Afrin and said, “Our fight against terrorism fully complies with international law, especially in the United Nations. Participating in an informal meeting of Foreign Ministers in Bulgaria, I heard sentiment along the lines of, ‘We think that this operation will weaken your contributions against DAESH.’ This is patently untrue. Turkey is clearly the most involved force on the ground against DAESH. Beyond declarations, we have put actions before our words as per our Operation Euphrates Shield and those before it. When the Republic of Turkey was assaulted by DAESH to many countries in Europe flew Turkish flag on public and other buildings showing solidarity with us for which we are grateful. Conversely when the PKK attacks in the same way, when our security forces are killed, when we lose our people, we do not see this solidarity. We have never received messages of condolence following an attack by the PKK. I would like to draw your attention to this double standard.”

- Turkey-EU JCC Co-President Annie Van Wezel

European Economic and Social Committee Member, Turkey-EU JCC Co-President Annie Van Wezel also reported that they are also very satisfied of Turkey's economic transformation. Wezel stated that they care for the benefit of all segments of the society from the prosperity and benefit which emerges from this prcoess. Underlining that they also have growing anxieties, Wezel voiced the discomfort felt in the repeated extension of the state of emergency. Wezel, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression and the press, stated that the penalties for journalists are upsetting.

Annie Van Wezel shared her views on fair trade, stating that they really care about fundamental rights.

- Vice President of the EU Turkey Delegation Gabriel Munuera Vinals

Deputy Chairman of the EU Delegation to Turkey Gabriel Munuera Vinals stressed the importance of Turkey as a very important trading partner for the EU. Pointing out that there are concerns regarding regression in fundamental rights, Vinals stated that they condemn the coup attempt occurred in 2016 and are in support of Turkey.

Stating that they want Turkey closer to Europe, the European Vice-President of the EU Turkey Delegation Gabriel Munuera Vinals, underlined that Turkey is a strategic partner for the EU.

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