Turkey targets 2013 for EU legal compliance
Turkey resumed EU accession talks on Thursday (29 March) with the German presidency aiming to open three more negotiating chapters with Ankara by late June.
The enterprise and industry chapter became the second out of 35 areas covered by EU legislation that the candidate country has opened as part of its membership talks, kicked off in October 2005.
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The move comes after the EU partially suspended the negotiations last December, freezing the formal progress on eight chapters directly connected with the bloc's customs union as Turkey had failed to follow its rules and open its ports and airspace to Greek Cypriots.
Speaking to journalists after a short meeting to formally mark the opening of another chapter, Turkey's chief negotiator Ali Babacan said Ankara is not prepared to change its position on Cyprus before the EU fulfills its commitment to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island.
He was referring to a political pledge made by the EU after Turkish Cypriots supported a UN plan on the unification of the island in 2004 while Greek Cypriots rejected it.
According to Mr Babacan, the EU is currently trying to draw up a protocol on trade with Northern Cyprus but Ankara is still waiting for the details and hopes to be consulted, as "the judgement over whether the isolation is over is upon us," he added.
The current Turkish government is planning to unveil a detailed agenda for adopting most of EU laws by 2013 - even in the areas blocked by the EU - with Mr Babacan suggesting, "80 to 90 percent of what we need to do will immediately help us."
He argued that the current Turkish leadership believes they can convince their own citizens about the benefit of the reforms while "in the medium to long term we hope that Europe will be also more supportive of the enlargement than today."
"It will be tomorrow's Turkey that will be considered to become a member and the EU will also be different," argued Mr Babacan.
Meanwhile, Croatia as the other candidate country also formally opened one new negotiating chapter on Thursday - one of six opened in total with two of them provisionally closed.
Zagreb hopes to kick off negotiations on all areas by the end of this year and finalise them by 2009, according to Croatia's permanent representation's spokesman.
However, the country's membership can only be approved after the EU makes some institutional adjustments as the current treaty foresees changes before there can be 28 members of the bloc.