International legal cooperation with EU candidate countries
The countries of Eastern and South Eastern Europe (including the EU candidate countries Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro) are a high-priority region for German legal consultancy activities.
Because the collaborative work with these countries is meant to support the EU accession process, cooperation measures are closely aligned with the relevant negotiation chapters of Community legislation – i.e. Chapter 23 (“Judiciary and fundamental rights”) and Chapter 24 (“Justice, freedom and security”) of the acquis communautaire, which lay down the conditions for adopting, implementing and enforcing the applicable EU regulations by the candidate countries.
The bilateral relations between Germany and Turkey are built on the solid foundations of deep and varied ties that span every segment of politics, industry, culture and society. Turkey has major security and economic relevance due to its NATO membership, geographical position as a bridgehead between Europe and Asia, and key role as a moderate and relatively advanced Muslim country. Furthermore, Turkey is important as an opinion leader within the Islamic world.
The Ministry has been fostering close and valuable ties with the Turkish justice authorities for many years. Cooperation in the legal field has been formalised since 2007 in a Joint Declaration with the Turkish Justice Ministry. The Ministries promote this collaboration by regularly adopting and implementing work programmes. The work programme for 2012/2013 was signed by the Justice Ministers of both countries in March 2012.
During a visit to Turkey in October 2012, the Federal Minister of Justice engaged in talks with high-level representatives from the fields of justice, religion, politics and civil society in Ankara, and visited a refugee camp in Kilis. In addition to the personal meetings between the German and Turkish Justice Ministers, the cooperation is further enriched by seminars, conferences, and a regular exchange of experts.
The Ministry's legal cooperation is also supported by the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) which has spent many years working closely with Turkish partners at the bilateral level and within the scope of EU funding programmes.
Serbia is an important country for German legal consultancy, not least because of its size. Accession negotiations between Serbia and the EU got underway in January 2014.
The Ministry maintains wide-ranging contacts with the authorities in the Republic of Serbia. The Justice Ministries of the two countries have already conducted a broad variety of meetings, including at the leadership level. Ever since Serbia attained candidate status for accession to the EU in March 2012, talks have centred on providing the country with support in the accession process. The Ministry's legal cooperation with the Republic of Serbia is carried out with valuable support from the IRZ.
Montenegro is very open to receiving German legal advice and is seriously committed to reform. The country has a broad range of ties to German culture and the German language.
In the past, contact between the Ministry and the Montenegrin justice authorities – including at the leadership level – took place on an individual basis. This interaction was substantially expanded in 2013 in the wake of the country's intended accession to the EU. The negotiation chapters 23 and 24 were formally opened on 18 December 2013. A Joint Declaration of Intent regarding the future shape of legal cooperation between the two countries is currently being finalised at the working level.
The Ministry's legal cooperation with the Montenegrin justice authorities is carried out with valuable support from the IRZ which has been active in Montenegro since 2000 via Federal Foreign Office funding for the “Southeast Europe” project (formerly the Stability Pact).