World Bulletin/News Desk
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed on Monday political agreement reached on opening a new chapter in Turkey's EU membership talks next month and urged for progress in new chapters two revive the process.
“I think that it has become more urgent now to focus on further negotiations in chapters that are related with judiciary and the rule of law,” Westerwelle told journalists on Monday at the margins of the EU Council on Foreign Affairs in Luxemburg. “We should address these issues in a more strong way,” he stressed.
German Foreign Minister Westerwelle has been influential in reaching an agreement among EU partners on opening the new chapter. “I think this is our common interest,” he stressed. “I believe that the decision for the accession conference is the right decision for Europeans and for Turkey.”
First chapter in three years
The EU had initially planned to open the chapter on “regional policy” in June. It would have been the first chapter to be opened in three years and widely regarded as an important step to revive Turkey’s stalled EU membership process.
But due to the disagreements between Brussels and Ankara in the aftermath of the Gezi Park protests and due to the opposition by Berlin, the final decision has been delayed to October.
Following the publication of the Progress Report of the European Commission on Turkey last week, German government has decided to support opening the chapter. The report has pointed out ongoing discussions on democracy and freedom of expression in Turkey, and has welcomed the recent democratization package of Turkish government.
"Our decision in June was not aimed at closing doors to Turkey; rather it was a signal," Westerwelle told journalists on Monday, referring to the decision of EU ministers last June to delay the opening of the chapter on “regional policy” in Turkey’s accession talks.
"Our message has been heard and understood. European Commission has also pointed out this," Westerwelle stressed "Now it is the right move to make the next step and open the chapter in regional policy."
EU countries have reached a general agreement on Monday to open the next policy chapter in Turkey’s accession talks on November 5, diplomatic sources confirmed. The formal decision on the opening of the chapter on regional policy will be taken at the General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations in 35 policy chapters, which foresee reforms and adoption of European standards, in various policy areas for its EU membership. Since 2005, Turkey has started negotiations on 13 chapters. No new chapters have been opened in the past three years, mainly due to the Cyprus issue and the blockage by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who opposed Turkey's EU membership.Last Mod: 22 Ekim 2013, 00:14