|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||16/11/95, Volume 1, Number 09|
THE European Parliament will vote on customs union with Turkey before the end of the year. It is a contractual obligation dating back to 1963. The vote is important. The outcome will be historic.
The decision, approved in the Association Council of last March, aims to end the transitional phase of our association, while defining the operational modalities of the customs union which is due to enter into force by 1 January 1996.
The Association Council also adopted on that occasion a resolution laying out the mechanisms and timetable for furthering our relations in a number of other areas to complement the customs union. In addition, the European Union made a declaration on the resumption of financial cooperation.
Turkey was one of the first to apply to the newly-born Common Market in 1959. We signed an Association Agreement in 1963 which foresaw, with time, full integration.
The signing of the Ankara Agreement was a logical culmination of Turkey's European vocation. Ever since the early days of the Republic, Turkish foreign policy's main objective has been to anchor Turkey to the West.
In 1973, we signed the Additional Protocol which aimed at customs union at the end of 1995.
What are the mutual benefits of a customs union?
For the Union:
The customs union will open and consolidate the Turkish market in a privileged manner for Community producers. All tariff and non-tariff barriers will be eliminated.
The trade volume between the two parties will go up. Community firms are expected to increase their sales and thus their market share in Turkey.
Community firms will gain a new competitive edge provided that they take advantage of the investment and production opportunities offered by Turkey. They will also be able to use Turkey as a joint investment and export base for the Middle East, the Black Sea region and Central Asia.
The customs union will help rationalise and modernise Turkey's economic structure.
The opening of the European market will raise Turkey's exports to the EU.
The customs union is expected to give rise to an increased and easier inflow of foreign direct investment and credit, which will help modernise production facilities and bring in crucial international know-how.
All of these will, in the medium and long term, create increased employment in Turkey, lessening migratory pressures.
But above all, customs union cannot be viewed only as trade partnership. It will have a major political significance both for Europe and Turkey. The realisation of the customs union will confirm Turkey's historical orientation towards Europe and will be a major step towards full integration.
We have come to a crucial point in the relationship between Turkey and the European Union.
Our Association Agreements, which have a history of 30 years, are reaching their culmination in the form of the customs union.
Mistakes have been made in the past. Many opportunities have been missed. But we must not allow the present one to be wasted.
I know that some of my colleagues in the European Parliament hesitate. They want to know more about the democratic process in Turkey. I want to assure them that this is an ongoing process. As in any process, it will continue. The best way to ensure the continuation of that process and change is a 'yes' vote. On the other hand, a 'nay' vote will strengthen the hands of those who are against the customs union. It will slow down the reform process. A long time ago, Cervantes wrote that if one wanted to ruin a big project, the best way was to delay it.
One achievement of which our government can be especially proud concerns the amendments passed at the end of October to Article 8 of our anti-terrorism law. By tightening up the wording on incitement, we have made it possible for persons held under this article to be released in large numbers. As I write, the courts are currently engaged in re-examining each case. The process will last a month. So far, in the first ten days they have ordered the release of 85 prisoners. Many more will follow in the weeks ahead, indicating that anomalies on the freedom of expression are being steadily removed.
Turkey is going for early elections. More than the outcome of those elections, uppermost in my mind is the vote on the customs union. It is a treaty obligation which should now be approved by the European Parliament. Turkey has stood by her allies during times of trial. I believe it is now the turn of Turkey's friends to stand by her.
We have been allies with most European members throughout the Cold War. We have always been reliable. For more than half a century, we have stood for freedom and peace. It is now our allies' turn to stand by us. The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands at times of certainty and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and trial.
This is also true for nations.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Internal Markets, Trade|
|Countries / Regions||Turkey|