Turkey pins hopes on Irish presidency of EU

Turkey pins hopes on Irish presidency of EU

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey pins hopes on Irish presidency of EU

Ireland will hold the European Union presidency until July 1. Turkey hopes to speed up its EU membership process during Ireland’s term presidency. AFP Photo

As Ireland takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on Jan. 1, Ankara is hopeful that long-stalled membership negotiations with the bloc will regain momentum with the opening of at least two chapters that have so far been blocked by France.

Since June 30, 2010, the last day of the Spanish term presidency, no single chapter has been opened in Turkey’s accession negotiations. Turkey hopes to first pursue the opening of Chapter 17, “Economic and Monetary Policy,” for which there is no opening benchmark. This chapter is one of the five chapters blocked by France so far based on the argument that they are directly related to membership. A legacy of former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s era, it favors a privileged partnership with Turkey rather than full membership.

The other chapter that Ankara hopes will be opened during the Irish presidency is Chapter 22, “Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments,” also blocked by France with the same argument.

Political will

Turkish officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, maintain that all closed chapters could be opened shortly as long as the EU displays political will.

“I believe that we have a unique opportunity for bringing some momentum to Turkey’s accession process,” Lucinda Creighton, Ireland’s Minister of State for European Affairs, was quoted as saying recently by the Anatolia news agency.

Creighton said they hoped to open at least one chapter for Turkey.

Turkey began talks in 2005 but only completed one of the 35 policy “chapters” every candidate must conclude to join the EU. All but 13 of those chapters were blocked by France, Greek Cyprus and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

Accession talks have nearly ground to a halt due to an intractable dispute over Greek Cyprus, the southern administration of the divided island, which Turkey does not recognize, and opposition from core EU members France and Germany.

Meanwhile, there are three chapters on which there is no political blockage; namely Chapter 19, “Social Policy and Employment,” Chapter 5, “Public Procurement” and Chapter 8, “Competition Policy.”
However, Turkey is reluctant to open these chapters claiming they would be economically detrimental.