European parliament delegation discusses customs union in Ankara
Elmar Brok. AA PhotoA delegation from the European Parliament Foreign Relations Committee headed by Elmar Brok had talks in the Turkish capital Ankara on March 17, seeking ways to update the Customs Union to protect Turkey’s interests over the EU’s free trade agreements with third parties.
The delegation had talks with the Economy Ministry and discussed improving the Customs Union, Brok said, noting both sides have deficiencies on the issue and they realized those problems in time.
Speaking after the delegation’s meeting with Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Brok said their visit to Turkey was an indication of the importance they attached to the country.
“In Brussels, everybody has a willingness to keep on with the Customs Union as it’s a success story,” Brok said, noting they were aware a solution is needed to avoid Turkey suffering from the EU’s free trade agreements with third parties.
Çiçek, for his part, said Turkish people are of the opinion negotiations are stalled.
“This opinion could only be changed by the submission of benchmarks and the opening of negotiation chapters 23 and 24,” he said.
Çiçek complained about statements from the EU, which he said were “political rather than judicial.”
The parliament speaker also defended the Turkish government’s contentious security package, saying some member states have detention periods lasting as long as 28 days, but the legislation increasing detention times in Turkey to four days before a court decision becomes a matter of debate in the country.
On the issue of opening new chapters in negotiations with Turkey, Brok said the Union is currently in a period of economic crisis, which makes enlargement more difficult.