EU to restart Turkey membership talks

Bloc of nations agrees to resume talks next month following a three-year hiatus and Ankara's crackdown on dissent.

    Commissioner Stefan Fuleold welcomed the decision to resume talks on Turkey [EPA]
    Commissioner Stefan Fuleold welcomed the decision to resume talks on Turkey [EPA]

    The EU has agreed to restart membership talks with Turkey next month, ending a three-year freeze despite Ankara's crackdown on protests this year.

    EU foreign affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg said on Tuesday that talks would resume in a fortnight, with an inter-governmental conference in Brussels on November 5.

    The 28-nation bloc had agreed to the resumption in principle in June, but then postponed the process in protest over Turkey's spring crackdown.

    The November negotiations will focus on regional development, one of 35 chapters or sets of EU rules and standards that candidate states must satisfy before winning entry to the club.

    The bloc's enlargement commissioner, Stefan Fuele, welcomed the decision.

    "Accession negotiations need to regain momentum, respecting the EU's commitments and established conditionality," he said in a statement. "I hope more chapters will follow."

    Fuele is eager for talks to start soon with Turkey on two other chapters, one on fundamental freedoms and the other on the rule of law; chapters 23 and 24.

    Turkey's EU minister, Egemen Bagis, called the resumption of talks a "delayed but positive development".

    When asked about Turkey's expectations about opening negotiations on those chapters, Bagis told the private NTV network: "We hope that the 27 member states will convince the Greek Cypriot administration to remove obstacles standing before the opening of the two chapters."

    Turkey began accession talks with the EU in 2005, the same time as Croatia which this year became the bloc's 28th member.

    But the talks have broke down because of Turkey's long-standing territorial dispute with Cyprus, a member of the bloc since 2004, as well as opposition from major powers France and Germany.

    SOURCE: AFP


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