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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Turkey

11th October 2012

The UK, the EU and 2013

A guest blog by Louise Taylor, EU Political Officer, British Embassy Ankara, Turkey.

The tragic deaths of a mother and her children in the town of Akçakale last week has highlighted the extent to which Turkey is at the top of many important areas of the international agenda.

This week all eyes are on Brussels and the European Commission’s annual progress report on Turkey’s accession to the EU. The UK agrees with the Commission when they say that the ‘potential of the EU-Turkey relationship can be fully tapped only within the framework of an active and credible accession process’.

That’s why the UK is keen to make 2013 a more positive year for Turkey’s EU ambitions.

The enlargement process has already made an important contribution to Turkey’s transformation. The UK will be working hard, in Turkey and in the EU, to drive this process forward, concretely and quickly.

The UK has always been, and continues to be, a strong supporter of Turkish EU membership. Last week in Istanbul the British Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, described Turkish accession as a “strategic necessity” during his meeting with EU Minister Egemen Bağış. That’s why the UK has for many years been working closely with Turkish Ministries and NGOs to help Turkey prepare for the benefits and challenges of EU membership.

One important practical example of that UK-Turkish co-operation was the signature last week in Istanbul by Mr Clegg and the Turkish Europe Minister, Egemen Bağış, of an agreement to raise the awareness, through study visits and tailored handbooks and a website, of 350 lawyers across Turkey about the EU’s approach to protecting fundamental rights.

The UK and Turkey have many other exciting projects in the pipeline, including further work with the Ministry of EU Affairs putting young business people on the EU path; work with the Council of Europe and the Justice Ministry on freedom of expression; and a joint project with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies to embed Turkey’s important new legislation on domestic violence.

All these projects are designed to help Turkey tackle the outstanding areas of reform as identified by the Commission. The UK is still analysing the detail of the report but we welcome the Commission’s efforts to restore momentum to the accession process despite the well known challenges.

I’m personally looking forward to working ever harder on this issue in the coming months and years.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.