Strong signals for removal of Greek Cyprus’ veto on EU chapters, Turkey says
AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said there were “strong signals” that Greek Cyprus would remove its veto on five negotiation chapters Ankara has demanded the opening of in a bid to accelerate Turkey’s EU accession process.
“There is a new era and a window of opportunity [between Turkey and the EU]. I hope everyone will capitalize of this,” Davutoğlu told reporters at a press conference following the meeting of the Reform Action Group on Dec 11. The action group is composed of foreign, EU, interior, justice minister and a deputy prime minister who are tasked with coordinating governmental acts to harmonize Turkish acquis with that of the EU.
A joint statement by Turkey and the EU underlined on Nov. 29 the nearly suspended negotiation process would be re-energized with the opening of a number of chapters. A letter sent by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker named these chapters, with messages that the commission would conduct preparatory work for the opening of these chapters in early 2016. All of these five chapters are under the blockade of the Greek Cyprus.
Davutoğlu admitted the blockade on these chapters but stressed there were strong signals the veto would be removed. “We will hopefully open Chapter 17 on Dec 14. This will be the second chapter opened in the last five years. At this pace, we can only conclude the accession process in the next century,” he said. “But we are working as if we will open all chapters tomorrow and we will close all opened chapters in a short span of time,” he stressed.
Another important issue Davutoğlu mentioned was the government’s work to accomplish the visa liberalization process in late 2016. “We will introduce all required draft laws to parliament in February  in a package under the title ‘visa liberalization package.’ We therefore call on the opposition to lend support to our task to complete the entire legislative work by March  so that all Turks can enjoy visa-free travel to Europe in late 2016,” he said.