EU prepares to open new chapter in Turkey’s membership bid

EU Commission allegedly suggests member countries to open new chapter in Turkey’s long-standing negotiations which straddle over French and Greek Cypriots’ vetoes, as well as Germany’s essential objection

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The European Commission has allegedly asked in a letter sent to the European Council to open Chapter 17 that is related with the Economic and Monetary Policy in Turkey’s bid to join the EU, according to a senior diplomatic source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity on Friday.

“We are expecting a decision by the European Council before the summer break,” the diplomat told AA.

The opening of the Chapter 17 is expected in the European Council meeting later this month when the EU member states are very likely to agree on to unblock Economic and Monetary Policy which is supposedly one of the most important chapters among Turkey’s negotiations of 35 chapters with the 28-member bloc.  

In the meeting in Brussels with Turkish EU Minister Volkan Bozkir and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last month, the EU’s enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn had implied that they could open Chapter 17 in the June summit.

"We have concluded our internal work and we will submit at the latest in early June our report to the council and [I] hope we will get approval soon so we can start and open Chapter 17," Hahn had said.

So far, the EU and Turkey have fulfilled the negotiation of 14 chapters out of 35 and 17 others remain blocked, including the ones on economic and monetary policy as well as on education and culture.

Turkey or any candidate must fulfil political (Copenhagen) and economic (Maastricht) criterias (conditionality) which are the only measures for a country to become a member in the EU.

Turkey’s accession talks had stalled in 2013 when some countries in the EU, most notably Greek Cypriots and France, have blocked Turkey’s negotiation chapters due to the Cyprus problem and 1915 Armenian events, which are not considered as part of the conditionality.

European diplomats perceive the opening of a new chapter, most notably the economic and monetary policy would resuscitate Turkey’s demotivated vision regarding the membership and political reform process.

Soon after the last weekend’s Turkish parliamentary election, the EU eulogised Turkey’s democracy on Monday and welcomed the results, calling the close-to-86-percent voter turnout a "clear sign of the strength of Turkish democracy."

"The coming period offers opportunities for further strengthening of the EU-Turkey relationship and to advance in broadening EU-Turkey cooperation in all fields, for the benefit of all our citizens," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday.

However, Turkey criticized the EU Parliament’s decision to approve the 2014 Accession Report on Thursday and said it is unacceptable for Ankara since the report has been perceived as out of the objective criterias.

Bozkir stated that Turkey will not accept such a biased report and return it back without being opened to the EU Parliament which adopted the report by 432 votes in favour, 94 against and 127 abstentions.

Bozkir rejected the definition of the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 as “genocide,” declassifying the outlawed PKK as a terror group and any suggestion of an end to the EU’s economic contributions to Turkey.

"I had earlier informed the EU parliament about the report and said if [these] three elements were included, we would return it," Bozkir said.

The Turkish minister claimed that the report does not encourage Turkey, rather it leads to the blocking of negotiation chapters as he referenced to the Cyprus issue on which he implied that the report might harm the reunification process.

Turkish Foreign Ministry also slammed the report in a statement on Wednesday as it emphasised the biased nature of the text and said the report will not contribute to the Turkish-EU relations and it will be returned to the parliament.

"The EP [European Parliament] decision draft, which was a balanced one and had constructive criticism in it in the first take, was transformed into a one-sided, far-from objective text during its process in the EP Foreign Affairs Committee,” the statement added.

The EU Parliament reporter on Turkey, Dutch socialist MEP Kati Piri stated that the EU’s relations with Turkey were important and it was for the interest of both sides to have a close and effective cooperation as a necessity of strategic partnership.

The accession report urged the the European Commission "to review the conduct of the EU accession negotiations with Turkey and to consider how EU-Turkey relations could be improved and intensified."

TRTWorld and agencies