EU signals opening of new chapter for Turkey

EU signals opening of new chapter for Turkey

EU signals opening of new chapter for Turkey

EU signals a new start to negotiations with Turkey, says EU Minister Bağış (C) at the 31st meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee. AA photo

As the European Union signals a new start to stalemated negotiations with Turkey during Ireland’s rotating presidency, Turkey’s EU minister has called on the bloc to open the 19th chapter, Social Policy and Employment. Turkey has had positive signals from France suggesting it will lift its block on some negotiation chapters, the EU minister said.

Turkey adopted two pieces of legislation on union rights to comply with the benchmarks of the 19th chapter, EU Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday, speaking at the 31st meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee. Bağış said following his visit to Dublin in January he would visit France in February too.

However, Staffan Nilsson, president of the European Economic and Social Committee, said the first assessment made by ILO and global unions of Turkey’s new union rights legislation still fell short of complying with the total EU Acquis.

The EU is not the only direction Turkey is moving in politically, Nilsson said, therefore the perception of accession must be credible, and the process must be kept alive by the EU institutions and member states.

Yet, Nilsson also expressed concern on recent developments in Turkey. “Statements made by Turkish politicians have made me sometimes wonder how much the EU is on the agenda of Turkey. For instance, to discuss the possibility of reestablishment of the death penalty would be totally the wrong direction,” he noted.

“If we look also at key areas, fundamental freedoms and rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and the right of fair trial, it’s clear that on those issues the situation has not moved in the best direction,” he added.

They knew that Turkey was in a particular geographical position with some security threats on its borders, Nilsson said. “But the context should never justify a breach in the fundamental rights of citizens of Turkey.”

Citing the recent debate over Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s suggestion that the separation of powers was the main obstacle of the government, Bağış said one of the prominent elements in writing the new charter was the principle of separation of powers, referring to the presidential system.
“Unfortunately the separation of powers appears as clashes of powers at the moment due to the seizure of authority by bureaucratic oligarchy,” Bağış said. Separation of powers does not mean the judiciary dominates the legislature and executive, he added.

PM Erdoğan due to visit Brussels

Bağış said José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, have officially invited Erdoğan to Brussels.

“We insisted Prime Minister Erdoğan be invited to the EU summit, where leaders of member countries also participate. We have signals that the prime minister will be invited for the summit next March,” Bağış said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel would also visit Turkey in late February, the minister added.

Hisarcıklıoğlu rebukes low profile participation

Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, chairman of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB), rebuked EU officials’ low participation to the Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

“This committee awaits support and courage,” Hisarcıklıoğlu said yesterday at the meeting.
He said the EU should not turn in on itself in order to overcome the economic crisis, adding that the EU should consider enlargement as an opportunity.