Monday

20th Sep 2021

Turkey and EU restart membership talks

  • Bagis (l) said 'this is only the beginning' (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Turkey and the EU have restarted accession talks three and a half years after their last meeting and five months after Turkey's crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Istanbul.

The talks resumed in Brussels on Tuesday (5 November) with the opening of a "chapter" on regional policy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The Turkish negotiator, Egemen Bagis, said "it felt good." But he added: "We have a saying in Turkey: 'You can't have spring with only one flower' and this is only the beginning."

EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said three more chapters - on public procurement, competition and social policy - could soon follow.

But despite the upbeat mood, the talks remain hobbled by vetoes.

Out of the 35 chapters in the EU rulebook, Cyprus, which remains locked in a frozen conflict with Turkey, is blocking the opening of six.

The European Commission is blocking eight because of Turkey's trade ban on Cyprus and France is blocking another four.

For his part, Bagis noted that French President Francois Hollande is expected to visit Turkey in the near future.

"We hope he will announce the unblocking of the remaining four chapters as well," he said.

He added the UN is working on a new Cyprus conflict resolution deal, which could be put to a vote by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots next year.

Fuele said the commission is ready to lift its eight-chapter veto if Turkey opens its airports and sea ports to Cypriot vessels.

Amid EU criticism of Turkey's crackdown on the Istanbul demonstrators and on Turkey's lack of press freedom, Fuele said he is trying to get Cyprus to lift its veto on chapters 22 and 23, which cover EU values, even if there is no UN breakthrough.

"I do hope we will be able to find a consensus ... on this issue," he said.

In terms of broader relations, the two sides indicated they are close to starting talks on EU visa-free travel.

Fuele said his fellow commissioner, home affairs chief Cecilia Malmstrom, is ready to go to Ankara "at any moment" to launch the process if Turkey agrees to sign a "readmission agreement" on taking back irregular migrants.

Meanwhile, Bagis noted that Turkish people are annoyed by EU foreign policy on Egypt and Syria.

He said Turks feel the West has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a free hand to "kill [his] own people … so long as [he] does not use chemical weapons."

He added that Turks want to know "how come [EU countries] are not raising their voices strongly when an elected President [Egypt's Mohammed Morsi] is in prison and the dictator of the last four decades [former president Hosni Mubarak] is freed by a military junta?"

"It is unfortunately creating a negative image via-a-vis the EU in Turkey," he said.

EU urges Turkey to change internet law

Turkey's crackdown on the internet raises "serious concerns" and "needs to be revised in line with European standards," the EU commission has said.

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Netherlands against more rights for rejected asylum-seekers
  2. EU fishing fleet gets up to €1.5bn tax break, despite emissions
  3. Loophole: Italy's vaccinated migrants can't get Covid pass
  4. UN annual meeting plus Poland in focus This WEEK
  5. No EU strategic autonomy without Libyan stability
  6. MEPs suspect Gazprom manipulating gas price
  7. Fast fashion vs. climate - how 'repair & resell' is the new model
  8. Right of reply: Erik Bergkvist, S&D MEP and shadow rapporteur

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us