22nd Oct 2016

Brussels declines to endorse 2013 date for Turkey's EU entry

The European Commission has welcomed Turkey's 400-page timetable for implementing EU legislation but refused to comment in advance on Ankara's desire to join the bloc by 2013.

Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul unveiled his country's roadmap towards EU membership on Tuesday (17 April), with details on forthcoming legislative proposals aiming to put Turkey's laws in line with European legislation.

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The plan includes reforms in eight areas temporarily blocked from further negotiations between Ankara and Brussels, as a result of a member states' decision last December due to Turkey's stance over Cyprus.

The dispute centers around the candidate country's reluctance to allow Greek Cypriot ships and planes to access its ports and airspace as agreed before the accession negotiations kicked off.

Ankara is insisting that such a move should be preceded by the end of an EU trade embargo on Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island.

Mr Gul said on Tuesday that the root of the dispute with Europe is political, adding "When the political problems are one day resolved, we will meet with the EU and it will take us half an hour to open and close those chapters."

The EU enlargement commissioner's spokeswoman commented that the plan as put forward by Turkey is "exactly what is expected from every candidate country."

But concerning Ankara's provisional date of 2013 as the deadline for finalising the required reforms and being ready to join the EU just after, she said the EU executive does not define accession dates in advance as they depend on a country's "progress in reform on the ground."

In Turkey, Tuesday's announcement was overshadowed by tensions over a potential presidential bid by the country's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has until 25 April to decide whether to register his candidacy.

Several hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Ankara over the weekend against him running for the top chair due to fears that as a candidate of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) he would endanger the secular character of the Turkish republic.


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