Ankara unenthusiastic on new EU chapters

Ankara unenthusiastic on new EU chapters

Sevil Küçükkoşum ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Turkey’s EU bid appears headed for a hiatus in the coming months because of continuing obstacles to opening accession chapters and few guarantees that the country will eventually join the bloc, according to Turkish diplomats.

Ankara is reluctant to fulfill the benchmarks in order to conclude the opening of the three remaining chapters in the 35 policy areas that require harmonization preparatory to joining the European Union because it does not want to carry out the major reforms they require without securing a guarantee of full membership.

“We have come to the end of what we can do [in terms of the] required benchmarks for opening those chapters,” a senior diplomat said.

As the remaining chapters benefit only the EU, it is unclear why Turkey should move ahead if there is no guarantee that the country will be granted membership even if it completes the harmonization process, he added.

Thirteen of the 35 negotiation chapters have been opened since Turkey began EU accession negotiations in 2005. France and Greek Cyprus have placed unilateral blocks on many of the accession chapters, meaning Turkey is only free to open three more chapters – on competition, social policy and public procurement.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has submitted a motion calling for the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry commission to investigate the reasons behind the stalemate in Turkey’s EU accession talks and determine the reforms that are urgently needed.

“Therefore, concrete proposals can be carried out by stating the areas missed out or ignored,” the motion said.

Turkey has been working to secure a visa exemption agreement with the EU so that it can revive public enthusiasm for the EU membership bid.

Turkey is ready to sign an EU re-admission agreement, a document regulating the treatment of illegal migrants crossing into the EU via Turkey that is a precondition for visa exemption. However, some countries such as Germany and Austria have blocked the European Council authorization for the European Commission to conduct talks with Turkey on the issue.

Some EU member countries have promised to unilaterally facilitate visas at the moment, but Turkey insists on bloc-wide visa exemptions, a Turkish diplomat said.