The Turkish finance minister said late on Friday that Turkey's European Union (EU) process would never be interrupted. Turkey's Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said even if reforms were decelerated, Turkey's EU process would not be interrupted.

"Our government is obsessively committed to EU membership," Simsek said during the gala dinner of the Sixth Bosphorus Conference in Istanbul.

The British Council, Delegation of the European Commission to Turkey, and the Foundation for Economic and Social Studies of Turkey (TESEV) have jointly organized the Sixth Bosphorus Conference on "Turkey and the EU: Regaining Momentum."

Simsek said Turkish society believed it deserved EU membership, and Turkey was a richness, not a burden for the union.
The minister said there were steps to be taken in human rights and rule of law, but also the EU should assume a role to speed up the accession process.

Simsek said he could say that reforms had slowed down, but assured the participants that Turkey would close the gap.
"The EU should be more encouraging, so that we can convince Turkish public to adopt the changes," he said.
Simsek said Turkey was still heading to the EU despite negative development, and defined the journey as a long one.
The minister also said that what was important was the result of the game, the final score.

Turkey became an EU candidate country in December 1999. The union launched accession talks with Turkey on October 3, 2005.
This high-level conference is taking place in Istanbul on October 16-17.

The main seminar on the 17th will emphasise frank, off-the-record discussion of some of the most important and controversial aspects of EU-Turkey relations.

Among the participants of our previous five highly acclaimed conferences were Abdullah Gul, Ali Babacan, Mehmet Simsek, Olli Rehn, Carl Bildt, Maxime Verhagen, Lord Kinnock, Geoff Hoon, Peter Mandelson, Joost Lagendijk, Lord Hannay, Ahmet Davutoglu, Dominique Moïsi, Andrew Duff and many other senior figures to discuss the politics and economics of Turkish accession.


Photo: AA