Turkey’s EU Minister calls for realism about opening new chapter along Greek presidency
Turkey’s EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu shakes hands with Greek Parliamentary Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis before a meeting in Athens, April 4. AA PhotoTurkey’s EU Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has acknowledged opening a new negotiation chapter with the European Union during the ongoing presidency of Greece does not seem possible.
“Greece’s support for Turkey’s EU membership has really prevailed even during difficult times. Perhaps, not very concrete things have been accomplished, but even this verbal and psychological support is important,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters on April 5, after attending a meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers held in the Greek capital city.
Foreign ministers of EU accession-candidate countries, such as Çavuşoğlu of Turkey, also attended the meeting.
Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos has once more confirmed his country’s support for Turkey’s EU bid, Çavuşoğlu said.
“We see that our hopes for opening chapters will not be met,” Çavuşoğlu, however, added. “But this is not solely up to Greece. It is necessary to note the EU is frankly not so eager on this issue ahead of the European Parliament elections,” he added.
Greece, which has been holding the six-month long rotating presidency of the EU for the first half of 2014, will hand over the reins to Italy on July 1.
“The primary reason for this is the European Parliament elections. Every country has different views in regards to potential impacts of such a decision [opening new chapters with Turkey] in the elections in their country. Now, our hopes have been delayed until Italy’s presidency term,” Çavuşoğlu said.
European Parliament elections will be held from May 22 to May 25, with around 375 million EU citizens in 28 member states choosing their representatives. It will be the first election after the Lisbon Treaty went into force in 2009. The Lisbon Treaty has given the European Parliament more say in policymaking. The Treaty stipulates that the next European Commission president will be chosen “taking into account the results of the European elections.”
There are 35 policy areas, or chapters, in which candidate-states must meet EU standards in order to join the 28-member bloc. So far Turkey and the EU have only opened 14 chapters, and only one of them has been provisionally closed.
Eight chapters remain suspended due to a veto by Greek Cyprus, which is not officially recognized by Turkey.
Recalling the Greek Cypriot blockage on chapters Turkey wants to open, Çavuşoğlu added: “There is a common understanding among everybody, but who will persuade the Greek Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus?”