Wednesday

20th Mar 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.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: I will fight to the 'last hour' for orderly Brexit
  2. EU affairs ministers demand Brexit clarity from London
  3. Nordic MEP candidates in first ever joint EU election debate
  4. UK announces EEA trade deal ahead of EU summit
  5. Four European cities among world's most expensive
  6. Violent 'yellow vest' protesters ban in Paris
  7. Russia celebrates fifth anniversary of Crimea annexation
  8. Blow for May as third vote on Brexit deal ruled out

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  2. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  3. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  4. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'
  5. Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides
  6. My plan for defending rule of law in EU
  7. Anti-corruption lawyer wins first round of Slovak elections
  8. The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us