Berlin urges EU to keep doors open to Ankara

Berlin urges EU to keep doors open to Ankara

Celal Özcan BERLIN / Hürriyet
Berlin urges EU to keep doors open to Ankara

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The opening of EU chapters 23 and 24 would benefit Turkey the most in the interests of keeping the country on track in its EU bid, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said yesterday following talks with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu.

Noting that the recent graft probe gripping Turkey was the topic of intense with Davutoğlu, Steinmeier said, “Maybe the opening of chapters 23-24 would be the best thing [to ensure a successful judiciary in Turkey].”

Steinmeier said it was important to keep the European Union’s door open to Turkey following turbulence over the corruption probe, saying he advocated the opening of two new sections of Ankara’s membership talks, Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights and Chapter 24 on justice, freedom and security.

Turkey’s top diplomat, for his part, said the opening of the chapters would be crucial in ensuring that the Turkish judiciary would fall in line with the European one. “EU-Turkish ties are very important. We trust Germany’s leadership on this topic. We believe that the initiatives taken by Germany will create reactions in the bloc,” Davutoğlu said.

Recent corruption allegations and the government’s attempt to change the judicial system have caused concern among the EU officials, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave assurances to the EU that he would respect the rule of law, judicial independence and the separation of powers during a visit to Brussels last month.

Steinmeier’s call came as he was to meet Erdoğan, who was also set to convene with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Vice Chancellor and Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the domestic politics of Turkey would be on the agenda during the meeting between Erdoğan and Merkel. Syria will be another item on the agenda of the meeting, as the two are expected to discuss the Geneva peace talks and humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.

Separately, Davutoğlu praised Steinmeier’s efforts on dual citizenship for Turks living in Germany.

Merkel’s conservatives broke a party taboo in allowing Germans of foreign origin to acquire dual citizenship as part of a coalition deal with the Social Democrats last year. Studies show an overwhelming majority of German Turks would like to hold both German and Turkish passports.