News / Asia

Turkey Seeks to Revive Its EU Bid

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses during the Turkey Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul, May 11, 2012. Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses during the Turkey Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul, May 11, 2012.
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses during the Turkey Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul, May 11, 2012.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses during the Turkey Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul, May 11, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Dorian Jones

ISTANBUL - Turkey is showing renewed interest in reviving its stalled bid to join the European Union now that Nicolas Sarkozy, one of its key opponents, is no longer the president of France. The 27-nation bloc also seems keen to put life back into Ankara's membership aspirations.

The election of French President Francois Hollande has been welcomed in Ankara. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said there already is a positive atmosphere.

"Well, we hope and wish that relations could improve with the new French government. The president of Turkey and the prime minister of Turkey have sent messages of congratulations. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called President Hollande to congratulate him personally, and that was a positive meeting," said Unal.


Snags on path to EU membership

Turkey began its negotiations for EU membership in 2005, but made little progress because of a dispute with EU member Cyprus and opposition from former French president Sarkozy. Sarkozy argued that the predominantly Muslim country is not a part of Europe and wanted Turkey to accept a special partnership with the EU instead of full membership. Turkey rejected the offer.

Also causing the delay is the opening of so-called chapters with which every EU candidate must comply. These relate to everything from the environment and human rights to matching EU standards.

Since talks began, Turkey has addressed just 13 out of 35 chapters, or categories, that all EU candidate countries must line up prior to membership. No chapters have been opened for two years. Eighteen have been frozen - eight by the EU - because of Turkey's refusal to allow Cypriot ships to use Turkish ports. France has been using its veto on a further five chapters.

Renewed effort applied

International relations expert Soli Ozel of the Turkish newspaper Haberturk said Ankara will be looking to France's new president to move the EU process along.

"I think basically to lift the blockage on the five articles [chapters], which he might do after the parliamentary elections are over, depending on the result that he gets. If France unblocks five articles, it at least opens up the system," said Ozel. "And I really don't think Hollande will go out of his way in order to humiliate the Turks. And I think Turkey has also recognized that it really can't afford basically to be cross with every other country whose behavior it does not like."


Supporters of Turkey's bid have been working hard to reinvigorate the process.

Turkey and the EU are to open talks aimed at bringing Turkey's membership bid back on track, and have launched an initiative to do so called "Positive Agenda."

"The so-called "Positive Agenda" on eight separate areas ranging from issues like energy and social policy, where the talks may not be open officially, but we are going to have European officials sitting down with Turkish officials doing the work," said Richard Howitt, a member of the European parliament's committee on Turkey, who has been helping the effort.


Global incentives improve

The global economy also may be providing a powerful stimulus to resuscitating Ankara's bid.

Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet said both sides have powerful economic incentives to improve relations.

"The fact [is] that Turkey is [a] growing market and has new investment potential. So the reason for cooperating with Turkey is increasing - not necessarily with a view to achieving membership anytime soon, but keeping a positive process going."


Observers warn there still are many obstacles to Ankara's bid. But the climate appears to be more favorable. Turkish officials say President Abdullah Gul is expected to hold talks with Hollande during a NATO summit in Chicago, which begins on Sunday.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mik from: Helsinki
May 19, 2012 5:31 AM
Hollande has already said that he opposes Turkish membership of the EU and that he will continue to pursue criminalisation of (Armenian) Genocide denial. This story is just another attempt to weary the EU's resolve to uphold its standards on human rights and undermine the democratic wish of its citizens. Ultimately Turkey's membership bid will be rejected by democratic referenda in the major countries but it will keep on trying and trying (and playing victim) since that seems to be what is most important for it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid