EU should give new dynamism to Turkish bid: Westerwelle
ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle speaks during the 14th Kronberg Talks Open Forum in Istanbul May 15, 2012. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜRELThe European Union needs to inject momentum into Turkey's access negotiations, which have come to a halt after years of making almost no progress, Germany's foreign minister said on today.
"EU-Turkey relations and accession negotiations must be re-dynamized," minister Guido Westerwelle said at a speech he gave in English at Istanbul's Sabanci University.
The process for Turkey's membership in the 27-nation bloc slowed down after more than half the negotiating chapters were blocked by member states, which agreed unanimously in 2004 to initiate talks for Turkey's accession.
"For too long we have not opened a single chapter. For too long we have moved around in circles," Westerwelle added.
The German minister signaled that the negotiations could get a boost from recent parliamentary elections in Europe, notably the change of power in France, which had opposed Turkey's bid and blocked some five chapters under its former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
He said Turkey, a new political and economic heavyweight, expected progress to depend on "Ankara's own merits, not on domestic considerations elsewhere" after Turkey carried out numerous reforms in recent years to meet EU criteria.
"I am optimistic to overcome the standstill," he added.
Turkey has successfully concluded only one out of 35 negotiating chapters throughout its eight-year bid, and the prospects for full membership foundered after Austria, France and Germany voiced reluctance over its inclusion.
The nation of 73 million refuses to extend its Custom's Union deal to new EU members, including Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognize.