The comprehensive reforms Turkey should carry out to catch up with EU standards on the path to membership will cost some €16 billion ($14 billion), a senior Turkish official said Wednesday, April 4.
"We have calculated the cost of the reforms as some $16 billion," Volkan Vural, the head of Turkey's EU affairs secretariat, told a group of reporters here. He said half of the estimated expenditures were needed to reconstruct the agricultural sector.
Most of the funding would come from domestic sources. The estimated cost covered all required reforms, some of which would continue after accession talks started and even after Turkey became a member, said Vural.
Last month, Turkey, an EU candidate since December 1999, revealed a calendar of economic and political reforms aimed at gaining membership.
The plan fell short of key EU demands in the political field such as the expansion of Kurdish cultural freedoms, abolition of the death penalty and the curbing of the political role of the military.
The program put a further burden on the government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, which is also battling a severe economic crisis and desperately lobbying to obtain foreign aid of $10-$12 billion.
Vural said that under current arrangements, the EU was supposed to grant Turkey some €175 million to support the accession reforms, adding that the funds could be increased if Turkey recorded progress.
Many issues in the EU reform program and an economic recovery plan, which the government is currently outlining, overlapped, he stressed. "The two program should be seen as a whole," Vural said.
Turkey, which lags behind the other 12 aspirants for EU membership, has so far failed to take any major steps to improve its troubled human rights record and crippled democracy.
Observers say that the economic recovery process will further delay the inauguration of accession talks between Ankara and Brussels. — (AFP, Ankara)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)