Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis, Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin, Interior Minister Besir Atalay and Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attended the 17th Meeting of the Reform Monitoring Group (RMG) held in Trabzon.
Bagis, in his statement he made to the press indicated that the reforms in the fields of human rights, democracy and rule of law were the most important aspects in EU accession process. Bagis said: "However, it would be unfair and wrong to consider these reforms which our government is determined to continue without interruption only in terms of EU membership. In compliance with the interests of our country, these reforms are also essential for reaching the level in the fields of democracy, human rights and rule of law which our people deserve."
Stating that these reforms were carried out in order to improve the citizen's living standards and to raise our children in a brighter and safer Turkey, Bagis said:
"At this point, the EU accession is a process to return to our cultural essence. When we look at our own history we see that during our most glorious period, we adopted the principle ' "Elevate the People, to elevate the State." Today the same approach is adopted in the EU. Even though some groups still favor the 'Supreme State' concept, our traditions as well as the EU accession process teaches us that peace and prosperity increases in countries where the individual is empowered, where the rights of the individual are respected.
Minister Bagis, stating that with regard to fundamental rights and freedoms, steps had been taken in recent years in order to enable citizens to express their opinions in a more liberal environment, said: Nonetheless this is a process that requires permanent advancement.""
In the statement he made after the 17th meeting of the Reform Monitoring Group (RMG), Bagis said that the fact that the Organisation of the Reform Monitoring Group met for the fourth time already this year, is an important indicator of the determined attitude of their Government in the EU accession process.
Bagis said that they attached great importance to the RMG meetings and stated that organizing the meetings in different provinces outside of Ankara was important in creating public opinion awareness of the issues.
Stating that the latest state of Turkey-EU relations and the forthcoming period have been discussed in detail, Bagis said: "What matters most is the determination of our Nation to continue this process."
Emphasizing that the most important determinant for the future of Turkey, and for the prosperity and living standards of the Turkish people, is a developed democracy, Bagis said: "Therefore it is of the utmost importance to realize progress on key issues. The most prominent is the need for our country to restart and finalize the preparations for a new constitution after building a broad consensus in society."
Bagis indicated that with regard to fundamental rights and freedoms, new steps had been taken in recent years in order to enable our citizens to express their opinions in a more liberal environment.
Emphasizing that civil society is one of the main elements of developed democracies, Bagis said: "The Turkish Government gives utmost importance to this issue. One of the important steps to strengthen the civil society is the establishment of the Ombudsman institution. We are strongly committed to do this."
Pointing out that a reliable and effective judiciary is one of the main pillars of public order and democracy, Bagis added:
"The Action Plan for Judicial Reform Strategy which aims at the independence, impartiality and efficiency of the judiciary was discussed and adopted by the Council of Ministers. The realization of the aims and goals that take place in the Judicial Reform Strategy within the terms indicated in the Action Plan will be followed with determination. The Anti-Corruption Strategy prepared under the coordination of the Prime Ministry Inspection Board has been discussed in details and continuation of the works towards the approval of the Strategy as soon as possible has been decided. A comprehensive work in the field of fight against discrimination has been initiated by all relevant institutions. Within this framework, a screening process has been initiated in order to enable our national legislation to comply with our international obligations.
Stating that as their new determination on fight against torture, the draft law on the approval of the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture had been opened for signature by the Council of Ministers, Bagis said: "Efforts towards the establishment of the National Human Rights Institution which will also undertake the duty of national control mechanism within the framework of this Protocol, are in its final stage."
Emphasizing that protecting the rights of the minorities was among the priorities of the Turkish Government, Bagis said: "The criticisms in this field are being carefully examined and applicable solutions are being sought. We have reached a mutual understanding with regard to overcoming some difficulties confronted in the implementation of the infringement judgments given against Turkey by the European Court of Human Rights."