Turkey ramps up pace of EU bid after French polls

Turkey ramps up pace of EU bid after French polls

Turkey ramps up pace of EU bid after French polls

Turkey may one day lose its interest in becoming EU member, German Foreign Minister Westerwelle (R) who was hosted by his Turkish counterpart Davutoğlu.

The Turkish government tries to break the impasse with EU as several draft bills have been presented aiming to help it open new chapters in the stalled negotiations. The moves reflect cautious optimism after the French presidential election

Ankara has moved fast to boost its prospects in accession talks with the European Union after François Hollande’s recent victory in the French presidential elections offered a glimmer of hope to revitalize the faltering process. Several draft bills that would help Turkey open new chapters in the stalled negotiations were presented to ministers to sign and would be sent to Parliament, Deputy Premier Bülent Arınç said.

Two of the drafts pertain to the introduction of a public ombudsman and the establishment of a Human Rights Institution. Both had been already submitted to Parliament but became invalid last year when the legislature completed its four-year term. The third draft envisages the establishment of a five-man panel that would handle complaints and decide compensation in cases concerning protracted trials and the authorities’ failure to fully implement court rulings.

The creation of the commission has been agreed between Ankara and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in a bid to stem the influx of complaints from Turkish citizens to the Strasbourg-based tribunal.

Hollande’s victory over Nicolas Sarkozy, an avowed opponent of Turkey’s EU membership bid, has led to cautious optimism in Ankara that France may now unblock several chapters in the accession talks, which have been at a standstill since 2010. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle will be in Turkey tomorrow to discuss the so-called “positive agenda” between Ankara and Brussels. The issue was high on the agenda when German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara late May 14. Westerwelle said Hollande’s victory had opened room to revive Turkey-EU relations, but cautioned against any immediate moves. “I wouldn’t say that we can accomplish [progress] soon, but I will step up my efforts. We want to open new chapters and revitalize relations,” he said, according to Anatolia news agency. Davutoğlu said the opening of chapters that had so far been blocked by Paris would constitute a “very significant sign” on part of the new French leadership about the future of Turkish-French ties. The two ministers also discussed the turmoil in Syria and the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago. If no chapters can be opened during the remainder of the current 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 won’t open any chapters.