Monday

17th Jun 2019

Turkish PM to visit Brussels to resuscitate membership bid

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is heading to Brussels this weekend aiming to resuscitate the country's bid for membership of the European Union.

In the European capital for three days starting on Sunday (18 January), Mr Erdogan is to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and foreign policy chief Javier Solana to discuss Turkey's accession to the bloc, along with regional issues.

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

  • Ankara is keen to revive membership talks (Photo: EUobserver)

While Ankara and Brussels started accession talks in 2005, little movement has been achieved both as a result of enlargement ‘fatigue' amongst existing member states and strong resistance from Austria and France, but also slow-going reforms domestically and a growing ambivalence towards joining the EU amongst the population.

Stumbling blocks remain over changes to the constitution allowing greater freedom of expression and religious and minority language rights.

Thornier still is Turkey's continued refusal to allow Greek Cypriots entry to its harbours and airports.

Ankara however is keen to show it is serious about speeding up reforms and prove its commitment to the accession process.

Last week, the government appointed its first full-time EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, a close ally of the prime minister. Previously, negotiations had been performed by the foreign minister, Ali Babacan.

Brussels has long requested Ankara appoint a dedicated EU negotiator, arguing that the foreign minister had too many other demands on his time.

Mr Bagis will accompany the prime minister on his visit.

On Tuesday, Mr Bagis held a press conference expressing his government's confidence at reviving negotiations.

"We have a steep road in front of us but we are determined to complete negotiations in the end - no one should doubt this," he said, according to Reuters.

"Turkey will be an honourable member of the European Union and not the sick man of Europe."

Mr Bagis said that the establishment of a new Kurdish-language television channel, the creation of an EU relations ministry and its national reform programme demonstrated Turkey's commitment to meeting Brussels' demands.

He warned that Turkey must be treated no differently than past accession candidates.

"We would like to see the same determination on the side of the EU," he said. "Previous candidates had certain conditions and we are expecting the same conditions."

The trip will be the prime minister's first visit to Brussels since 2004. Mr Barroso, for his part, visited Turkey last April.

Mr Erdogan will also meet with the head of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering and speak at a pair of Brussels think-tanks.

Turkey may rethink Nabucco if EU talks stall

Turkey may reconsider its support for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline - intended to transport gas from the Caspian Sea basin to Europe, bypassing Russia and Ukraine - if there is no progress on the energy chapter of its EU accession talks, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

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.

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. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  2. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  3. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  4. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  5. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  6. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  7. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue
  8. Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us