Turkey's EU Minister Omer Celik called for the EU to open new chapters relating to fundamental rights and independent judiciary in Ankara's accession talks instead of criticizing Turkey over these matters.

Minister for European Union Affairs of Turkey Omer Celik attends the European Union Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Tallinn, Estonia. September 8, 2017. (AA)
Minister for European Union Affairs of Turkey Omer Celik attends the European Union Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Tallinn, Estonia. September 8, 2017. (AA)

The EU's stop-start approach to Turkey’s accession talks is unacceptable, the Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik said on Friday.

Foreign ministers of countries within the Eastern Partnership programme arrived at the Estonian capital, Tallinn, on Friday for an informal summit with their EU counterparts.

The summit, which on its first day focused on Turkey's accession talks and North Korea's nuclear tests, was attended by representatives of the candidate countries.

"This is not a child's play. When they talk about suspending or halting the accession negotiations and then restarting it in six months, they should not forget that they are talking about Turkey which is a great, strategic and important European country and a European democracy," Celik said after meeting EU foreign ministers in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

“This approach of ‘I froze talks, now I restarted them’ is not acceptable for us,” Celik said.

Many EU ministers in Tallinn stressed that Turkey, a NATO ally of 80 million people, was indispensable for security cooperation and keeping a check on immigration to the bloc from the tumultuous Middle East.

EU accession and new chapters

Celik called for opening new chapters in Turkey’s EU accession talks.

He especially urged the opening of Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights and Chapter 24 on justice, freedom and security.

"If they think that a country is drifting away from European Union, then they need to open the chapters and negotiate. They mostly criticise Turkey about the issues of fundamental rights and independent judiciary. So I tell them to work together, open the 23 and 24 chapters," he said.

The EU has given no signal that it will do so.

On Turkey’s political row with Germany, Celik said Berlin’s apparent wish to suspend Turkey's EU relations would not affect its candidacy to the bloc.

"Full membership in the EU is the state strategy," he said.

He called on the German politicians focusing on Ankara in their campaigning to instead turn to the public’s desire for a good education and affordable housing.

The future of Turkey’s EU membership talks has become a major topic in campaigning ahead of Germany’s September 24 parliamentary elections.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is running for re-election, has pledged to raise the possibility of suspending or ending Turkey’s EU membership talks at a summit in Brussels next month.

Her rival, Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz, has called for immediately halting Ankara’s EU membership talks and freezing its $4.68 billion (4 billion euros) in pre-accession funds.

While Austria and Luxembourg were among those who backed Merkel's tougher line on Turkey, Hungary, Lithuania and Britain – which will be leaving the EU – held the opposite view.

Source: AA