News / Europe

EU Revives Membership Talks with Turkey After 3-year Hiatus

European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 16, 2013. European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 16, 2013.
x
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 16, 2013.
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele addresses the media, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 16, 2013.
Reuters
The European Union will launch a new round of accession talks with Turkey next month following a three-year hiatus after Germany dropped opposition prompted by Ankara's crackdown on street protests.

Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying, but a series of political obstacles, notably over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.

The new “chapter” of negotiations with the 28-member bloc will open on Nov. 5 and the process should be accelerated to help Ankara implement democratic reforms, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said.

“Recent developments in Turkey underline the importance of EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey,” he said.

Many EU capitals want to take the long-awaited step on Turkey's path towards the EU, arguing Europe should capitalize on Ankara's rapid growth and rising influence in the Middle East. Others are nervous about an expansion that would see the bloc bordering countries including Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Earlier this month, the European Commission praised recent judicial reforms in Turkey and the government's announcement last month of a package of laws designed to salvage a peace process with Kurdish insurgents.

In its progress report it accused Turkish police, however, of using excessive force to quell protests that started at the end of May, urging the government to strengthen oversight of the police and press ahead with investigations into their conduct.

Six people were killed and about 8,000 were wounded in violence as the protests against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government swept Turkish cities and police used teargas and water cannon to disperse a sit-in in an Istanbul park.

EU governments, led by Berlin, had postponed plans to launch new talks in June as a rebuke for the handling of the unrest.

'Meaningless obstacles'

The newly opened negotiating chapter - one of more than 30 that need to be discussed before Turkey can join the EU - covers issues dealing with how a country spends EU aid targeted for poor regions.

Turkey's EU affairs minister, Egemen Bagis, welcomed the decision and said he hoped it would mark a new beginning in stalled relations between Ankara and the bloc.

“We hope Turkey's relations with the EU will become more orderly and we will experience a period where illogical, unnecessary and meaningless political obstacles are removed,” he said at a lunch for the EU's outgoing ambassador to Turkey.

Bagis called for the opening of two chapters concerning human rights, freedom of expression and the judiciary, saying the majority of criticism directed towards Turkey in the progress report concerned these areas.

Erdogan, who has bristled at foreign criticism of his handling of the summer unrest and has frequently attacked the EU's attitude towards Turkey, mocked the bloc on Tuesday.

“Is the EU's only preoccupation preparing progress reports on Turkey?” he said in a speech to deputies from his ruling AK Party in parliament.

“The EU is extremely generous in criticizing candidate countries and we are waiting for it to make some self-criticism and write its own progress report.”

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid