Tuesday

22nd Oct 2019

France ready to unblock EU-Turkey talks

  • Turkey has been in EU membership talks since 2005 (Photo: svenwerk)

France wants to "give a new impetus" to Turkey's EU membership talks, allowing negotiations to resume this week after a break of almost three years.

"We are favourable to the idea of opening talks on what is called chapter 22," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday (12 February) in Paris after meeting his Turkish counterpart on the margins of a conference on Libya.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

A spokesman for the foreign ministry later the same day confirmed that France, a long-term opponent of Turkish EU accession, has had a change of heart and wants to "give a new impetus to EU-Turkey relations."

He said Paris also expects Ankara to "contribute concretely to this dynamic."

Turkey began its EU accession process back in 1963 with a tailor-made "association agreement."

It formally applied to join in 1987 and started accession talks in 2005.

But the negotiations stalled three years ago, in part due to Cyprus' complaint that Turkish soldiers continue to occupy the north part of the island.

France has also proved hesitant to opening new areas in the negotiations, however - out of the 35 so-called chapters, just one has been concluded so far.

France's former President, Nicolas Sarkozy had openly said that Turkey should never get into the EU.

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel still shares Sarkozy's view, but she says her government will not block Turkey's membership talks as such.

The impasse has prompted frequent complaints from Ankara.

In its latest salvo, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said on TV that he might join the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, a multilateral Asian body, instead of the Union.

For his part, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele welcomed the French development.

"France's signal of readiness for the EU to restart discussions on regional policy with Turkey adds to momentum to make 2013 a turning point in our relations," he tweeted.

Technical talks on chapter 22, which deals with regional aid and how to align Turkey's legislation to EU rules in this field, are expected to start later this week. But first, the Irish EU presidency needs to get the consensus of all the other member states to move ahead.

Meanwhile, Cyprus is also expected to soften its stance if presidential elections on Sunday put a new administration in power.

Turkey will also need to move, however.

The EU wants it to open access to its ports and airports for Cypriot vessels and airlines.

Concerns over Turkish human rights abuses, the role of the military in Turkish politics and internal conflicts with the Kurdish minority in Turkey are also irritants in EU-Turkish relations.

Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker described a decision to block Albania and North Macedonia from advancing into the next phase to eventually join the European Union as a historic mistake.

News in Brief

  1. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder
  2. Erdogan accuses EU of 'standing by terrorists' in Syria
  3. Migrants riot in Maltese camp
  4. Spanish PM refuses dialogue with Catalonia president
  5. Putin: Russia will help Africa without 'conditions'
  6. Almost 200 arrests in Catalonia independence protests
  7. Report: Russian hackers used Iranian cover to attack UK
  8. Next EU economy chief calls for looser budget policies

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  2. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  3. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  4. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget
  5. Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls
  6. EU leaders spent just 12 minutes on climate
  7. Crunch Brexit vote in UK This WEEK
  8. EU envoy sheds light on weird US diplomacy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us