Minister Bağış heads to EU for Progress Report

Minister Bağış heads to EU for Progress Report

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Minister Bağış heads to EU for Progress Report

EU Minister Bağış (L) shakes hands with Füle, the union’s commissioner for enlargement, in this photo. Bağış will hold talks with EU officials in Brussels. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The Turkish government is increasing its pressure on the EU Commission on the eve of the publication of the latest Progress Report in a bid to convince the body to issue a more “balanced” report amid suggestions that the EU will excoriate Turkey over the Gezi Park demonstrations.

EU Minister Egemen Bağış will hold talks in Brussels with senior EU officials tomorrow. Bağış will also promote the government’s recent democratization package during his talks and will ask the commission to refer to the package in the Progress Report.

The minister will have talks tomorrow with the European Union’s commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Füle, and the chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Elmar Brok, in Brussels.

Turkey has received positive signs from Brussels about conducting the formal launch of talks on Nov. 5 for Chapter 22, regional policies, in membership negotiations with the EU. Ankara, however, is cautiously waiting since some European Union member countries still have reservations due to the brutal police force used against nationwide Gezi Park demonstrations.

However, EU governments have split into two on the formal launch of the regional policies chapter, an EU diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.

One group opposes the launching of any chapter at present amid growing authoritarianism, while the other advocates the opening of one or more chapters in order to better anchor the country to the bloc’s democratic values.

For this purpose, some members of the bloc support even opening talks on Chapter 23 and 24 with Turkey.

The EU had planned to open the chapter on regional policies with Turkey in June in what could have helped revive Ankara’s bid to join the union after three years out in the cold.

But Germany, backed by Austria and the Netherlands, blocked the opening of the chapter, believing it would send the wrong signal so soon after police cracked down on protesters across Turkey in the Gezi Park demonstrations.

EU member states agreed to open the chapter on regional policy but will delay the formal launch of talks until after an Oct. 16 report by the European Commission on reforms and human rights in Turkey.