Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis said that EU process was a state policy and reforms have been accelerated with the publication of the National Program on 31 December 2008 after its approval by the President Abdullah Gul.
Coming together with journalists at the Secretariat General for EU Affairs, Bagis said they had broken new ground in many issues regarding the EU accession process and gave the restoration of Nazim Hikmet's citizenship, approval the Kyoto Protocol, establishment of a commission at Turkish Grand National Assembly on equal opportunity for men and women and TRT 6's broadcasts as examples.
Reminding that they entered the new year with a National Program of 400 pages, Bagis said: "This program is important because it is signed by all ministers of the Republic of Turkey and our Prime Minister and President." Bagis said that the National Program issued in the Official Gazette was a contract which declared every activity to be accomplished by Turkey in the forthcoming four years. Bagis added that a minister to work in the field of EU issues was appointed for the first time on 8 January.
Bagis recalled that the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had visited Brussels after a break of four years; and together with the President Gul, leader of the main opponent party Deniz Baykal also visited Brussels. Moreover, he added that the "visibility" increased with the appointment of a separate minister for the EU affairs. Bagis said that he had visited many European countries since he had taken over the post.
Bagis stated that nearly 30 draft laws waiting on the agenda of the TGNA were related with the EU process.
Bagis declared that they had fulfilled the criteria necessary to open the taxation chapter to the EU negotiations and there was no obstacle before this chapter to be opened to the negotiations on June, 26. Bagis added that in fact the process should be evaluated by taking the reforms realized into account, not the number of chapters opened to negotiations.
Bagis said: "Turkey is a country deserving a democracy, an economy and human rights in the European standards. He added that for these primarily, amendments in the constitution should be made, legal reform, strategy for the struggle against corruption should be realized and the works on the trade unions' act should be carried out.
Emphasizing that they wished to gather the Reform Monitoring Group at least once in two months, Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis reminded that the Constitutional Court decided for a constitutional amendment on the issue even though the law for public auditing institution passed.
Stating that there were political obstructions on 18 negotiation chapters which haven't been opened yet in the EU process, Bagis said "There are eight chapters which depend on the opening of the harbors on the Cyprus Issue and five chapters which are obstructed by France" emphasizing that the Greek Cypriot Administration obstructs some of the chapters just for political reasons although the criteria were fulfilled.
Pointing that there were European politicians who gave messages against Turkey in the European Parliament elections, Bagis said "They won't be successful in their main aim, Turkey won't throw in the towel."
Stating that EU is the oldest and most permanent peace project of the human history in the long run, Bagis said Turkey's joining the EU would crown that peace project. Bagis said that 80 percent of the common problems European countries and Turkey would encounter could be spontaneously solved with integration.