Turkey soon to open new chapter with EU

Turkey soon to open new chapter with EU

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey soon to open new chapter with EU

Despite its battered ties with the EU over the Greek Cyprus presidency, Turkey hopes to open a new negotiations chapter during the next Irish term. Hürriyet photo

Turkey plans to open new EU membership accession chapters during the term presidency of Ireland starting in January 2013, Turkish European Union Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday.

“We are voicing our demands on the opening of new negotiation chapters,” he said, responding to questions in an interview with private channel Kanaltürk.

“We held meetings with Irish officials on this issue. We hosted the Irish EU minister in Turkey, and we will make a visit soon. We brought these issues up during our meeting with British officials who work closely with Ireland. We will visit England at the beginning of November.”

Turkey has currently frozen its relationship with the European Union because it does not recognize the current term president, Greek Cyprus.

Despite all the efforts exerted by Turkey in its EU accession bid, the steps taken by the EU have been limited, Bağış said.

Bağış also responded to questions concerning the European Commission’s tough progress report on Turkey, which was released Oct. 10. In the report, the EU’s executive body expressed serious concerns about Turkey’s progress in meeting the political criteria for full membership of the bloc, paying significant attention to the freedoms of expression, assembly and association, lengthy prosecution and detention periods and the failure to find a political solution to the Kurdish issue.

“The commission, which is so eager to make criticism, is not generous in its appreciation,” Bağış said, adding that he thought the report was prepared through bargaining. Without mentioning names, Bağış said some circles within Turkey had also played a role in this bargaining.

The European Parliament is also set to release a report on Turkey later this year. Bağış said he hoped the coming report would be “more serious” than the commission’s report, but added that he had significant doubts on the matter.

“I especially want to underline that I will not take it [the report by the European Parliament] seriously at all. Because personal bargaining has already begun in the drafting,” he said, without elaborating.