A new chapter has opened in Turkey's bid for EU membership, as negotiations for budget contributions began in Brussels.
Chapter 33 on financial and budgetary provisions was opened Thursday. Turkey must fulfill 35 chapters for EU membership, but five chapters remain blocked because Ankara refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus as a country.
The move to continue Ankara's long-stalled bid for membership comes just one week after Britain's decision to exit the European Union, an unprecedented decision Turkey's EU Minister, Omer Celik, said would make his country's position in the EU stronger.
Many Europeans oppose Turkey's EU accession for multiple reasons, including its Muslim majority and fears membership would prompt an influx of Turkish migrants in other European countries.
The bloc has urged Turkey to meet rights standards required of all member states.
"As the EU, we also stressed the need for swift reform efforts, especially in areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights," said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders after chairing a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Brussels. "As a candidate country, naturally (there has to be) respect for the highest standards of democracy and rule of law."
Turkey has also asked for visa-free travel for its citizens in Europe, a privilege Brussels has said it cannot grant until Ankara curbs the scope of its tough anti-terror laws. But Turkey says it cannot do so as it continues to battle Kurdish militants.
The meetings in Brussels began Thursday with a moment of silence for the 42 victims of Tuesday's bombing of Istanbul's airport.