No chapters likely to be opened until 2013

No chapters likely to be opened until 2013

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
No chapters likely to be opened until 2013 Despite the positive climate between Turkey and France following the French presidential elections, Ankara will likely have to wait until 2013 before it can speed up negotiations with the European Union, due to a tight calendar.

Following the election of François Hollande as the new French president, Brussels and Ankara received some positive signals from Paris that the block France has in place on five of Turkey’s EU accession chapters could be removed in due course, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned. Paris unilaterally blocked the opening of the five chapters out of a total of 33 due to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration’s strict opposition to Turkey’s bid to join the EU. However, diplomatic sources told the Daily News that it would only be possible for concrete steps to be taken after the French parliamentary elections slated for mid-June.

‘It’s better not to raise expectations’

There are expectations that at least one negotiation chapter, monetary policies, could be opened during the current Danish EU term presidency, but the fact that there will be only ten days left after the election before Denmark hands over the presidency to Greek Cyprus will make it nearly impossible to complete the necessary procedures in time. The EU’s summit is expected to be held just before the French elections, and no decision on opening a chapter with Turkey is scheduled to be included on the summit agenda.

“It’s good that there is a positive atmosphere. There have been positive statements from both Turkey and the EU in the aftermath of the French elections. But it’s better not to raise expectations,” diplomatic sources said.

If no chapters can be opened during the remainder of the Danish presidency, then Turkey will have to wait until Ireland assumes the term presidency at the beginning of 2013. Because Greek Cyprus will hold the term presidency for the second half of 2012, Turkey has already stated that it will suspend all of its activities with the term presidency, and won’t open any chapters.

No new chapters since 2010

Turkey’s EU Ministry and EU Commission are working hard to foster ties between the two sides, and the fact that there are positive messages from Paris has encouraged them. Turkish diplomats believe that in addition to the three chapters that are currently in the pipeline, the removal of the French block would add at least another three chapters. Turkey has not opened any new chapters since June 2010.
Ankara expects a visit from the EU’s enlargement commissioner Stefan Füle on May 17, and rotating EU president Denmark’s Foreign Minister Villy Sovndall will pay a working visit to Turkey on May 25, during which she will discuss the future pace of the negotiation process with Ankara.