EU says sorry for Turkey’s Progress Report date but won’t change it

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A senior European diplomat has expressed his regret that the announcement of the next Progress Report will coincide with Turkey’s Feast of the Sacrifice but said the date could not be moved as other countries were also concerned. The event is scheduled for Oct. 16, and is valid for the other candidate and potential candidate countries as well as Turkey.

“We are sorry that the date set for the announcement of the Progress Report is not convenient for Turkey. This date was set months ago,” a senior European diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News, in response to EU Minister Egemen Bağış’s reaction against Brussels’s decision to announce the report on Oct. 16, when Turkey celebrates the Feast of the Sacrifice.

Recalling that the date was set months ago, the diplomat underlined that on Oct. 16, the European Commission would publicize its “2013 Enlargement Package,” comprising a Strategy Paper and eight progress reports on the candidate and potential candidate countries. The current enlargement agenda covers the Western Balkans and Turkey, with negotiations with Iceland put on hold by the Icelandic government.

Bağış expressed Turkey’s objection to the EU Commission’s decision to announce the report on Oct. 16 during a visit to Brussels on Oct. 2. He described the decision as disrespectful to Turkey’s values and underlined that the EU would have to wait until the end of the Feast of the Sacrifice to get the Turkish government’s official response to the report.

This year’s report is expected to be one of the toughest in recent years due to the government’s heavy crackdown on the protesters during the Gezi demonstrations in June. The democratization package announced by the government on Sept. 30 is expected to be referred to in the report.

 

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