Turkey, EU bid to inject new momentum in talks
ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis (L), and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule (R).Turkey and the European Union officially launched Thursday a "positive agenda" to put Ankara's stalled accession negotiations back on track after years of stagnation.
"This is a special day in our relations," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule told a joint news conference with Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis in Ankara.
"This positive agenda should bring fresh dynamics and new momentum in our relations," said Fule. "Our aim is to keep the accession process alive and put it properly back on track after a period of stagnation which has been a source of frustration on both sides." Turkey and the EU formally began accession negotiations in 2005 but since then Ankara has opened only 13 out of 35 policy chapters which all EU candidate nations must successfully negotiate prior to membership. It had successfully closed only one.
In its annual progress report last October, the European Commission proposed a new timetable in a bid to revive Turkey's negotiations and encourage reforms in the candidate country.
Turkey and the Commission have agreed to set up eight working groups, each devoted to a specific chapter of the EU demands, where Turkey will be offered support and guidance to intensify efforts for further alignment with EU legislation.
The new move "is not to replace but to complement and support the accession process of Turkey," said Fule.
The row over Turkey's refusal to open its sea and air ports to shipping from member Greek Cyprus -- which Ankara refuses to recognise -- as well as stiff opposition from some member states, including France, remain major stumbling blocks to entry.