27th Feb 2024

Turkey back at EU's negotiating table

The EU has agreed to open a new chapter of Turkey's negotiating package - only the second since Ankara started talks in October 2005 – amid Turkish irritation at the recent European summit in Berlin.

Turkish government representatives will on Thursday (29 March) officially kick off negotiations on the enterprise and industry chapter after EU member states agreed to the move on Tuesday.

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The agreement was preceded by a clash between some member states and the German EU presidency after Berlin introduced additional hurdles for Turkey based on French demands, without sounding out other member states' positions, according to Turkish paper Zaman.

Spain was particularly angered and only agreed to lift its opposition to restarting the talks after its particular concern - a reference to shipbuilding - was also included on the list of extra tasks for Ankara.

Following Ankara's refusal to open its ports and airspace to Greek Cypriot ships and planes, member states in December agreed that the candidate country can open all but eight chapters out of 35 in the package but cannot provisionally close any of them.

Before the December decision, Turkey had already opened and closed the chapter on science and research.

The 1799 mug

Apart from slow progress on EU talks, Turkish media have indicated that Ankara is feeling miffed by the negative political messages from top European leaders.

Most recently, the country's politicians expressed their disappointment at not being invited to the Berlin summit, held last weekend, to celebrate the Union's 50th birthday.

"If the EU has negative thoughts about Turkey, it should make its decision so that we can continue on our own road. Let's not waste money or energy," prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, according to press reports.

A gift by German chancellor Angela Merkel to French president Jacques Chirac to mark his departure from the European stage - a mug commemorating an 18th century Ottoman forces defeat by Napoleon in Egypt – has also caused some irritation in Turkey.

"The European Union should concern itself with the future rather than the past," said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, adding "If the EU has a future vision, it should look to the future... Harping on the past does not befit the EU vision."

But German officials have denied reports about the image on the mug and said there is only a flower motif on the mug with a 1799 date.


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