Strasbourg (F), 21 September 2006
Since last year, the Presidents of the Turkish Provinces* have been elected by the Provincial Council, the members of which are directly elected by the citizens. But this institutional reform in Turkey is only one step in an ongoing process. The role of the regions in Turkey will further increase. This was the main issue discussed between Riccardo Illy, President of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), and Mr Harput, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Interior.
Harput stressed that Turkey is committed to further decentralisation in order to serve the citizens and their needs in a better way. This would also lead to the development of solid links between Provinces and citizens. President Illy strongly welcomed this view and promised that the AER and its members will give its support to the Turkish provinces in reaching their goals. “The AER fully shares these values of proximity to the citizen which will result in concrete projects. This is what we experience each day in our 255 Member Regions” he said. As a proof of this involvement, the AER Bureau has already welcomed the Province of Kahramanmaras as first Turkish AER member. In meetings with the Secretary Generals of some Turkish Provinces President Illy and Secretary Klaus Klipp discussed ways of concrete cooperation between the regions of Turkey and the other European countries.
President Illy also met Ministers and representatives from the Government and the civil society. This three-day marathon confirmed to Riccardo Illy that “Turkey is a modern and democratic country with continuing economic development and growth. Turkey is definitely on the way to meet the standards set by the EU and must have a chance to become a full partner of the European Union. Finally, we have to keep in mind that Turkey is the natural link for the dialogue with the Middle-East and the southern Mediterranean”, President Illy concluded.
* According to the AER’s ‘Declaration on regionalism in Europe’, “the region is the territorial body of public law established at the level immediately below that of the State and endowed with political self-government. The region shall be recognised in the national constitution or in legislation which guarantees its autonomy, identity, powers and organisational structures.” The Turkish provinces correspond to this definition.
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