Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


EU, Turkey to resume membership talks

25 June 2013, 15:02

Luxembourg - Turkey and the EU mended fences on Tuesday, agreeing to reopen long stalled talks on Turkey's EU membership despite strong reticence from Germany and others over Ankara's tough crackdown on anti-government protests.

Ireland, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said EU ministers agreed to resume membership talks with Turkey after a three-year break, but that a date to kick off the negotiations would be announced later this year.

European Affairs ministers meeting in Luxembourg "agree to open Chapter 22", an Irish statement said, referring to one of 35 sets of EU rules and regulations that candidates to membership of the bloc must satisfy before gaining entry to the European club.

In Ankara, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu hailed the decision and an official statement said "this is the right step in our relations which have been going through tough times".

"Chapter 22 has been opened. This matter is over," Davutoglu said in televised remarks.

The opening of negotiations on Chapter 22 originally was to have kicked off Wednesday in Brussels, but Berlin, backed by the governments of Austria and the Netherlands, blocked the plan citing concern over Ankara's tough crackdown on protests in the last weeks.

Negotiations expected in October

"We cannot act as if nothing has happened in the last days," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on joining talks on Monday with his counterparts from the 27-nation bloc in Luxembourg.

Westerwelle returned to the meeting on Tuesday saying however that he had had "a very good, very constructive conversation" with Davutoglu and that an agreement was possible.

Negotiations now are expected to kick off later this year, probably in October after the German elections and after the release of annual reports by Brussels on reform within EU candidate nations.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger backed the idea of giving Turkey "a certain amount of time in which we can have a look at human rights, freedom of speech".

"We are a community of values," he said. "You can't stick the knife in countries like Egypt but not criticise an EU candidate country."

The sudden German opposition last week to reopening membership talks with Turkey triggered tension between Ankara and Berlin, with sharp words exchanged and each calling in the other's ambassador for explanations.

Tarnished image

Turkey began accession talks in 2005 but so far has agreed with the EU only one of 35 chapters needed to gain entry into the EU club.

The clashes in Turkey between police and protesters left four dead and tarnished the government's image.

A delay in opening the new chapter would have raised fresh doubts about whether the predominantly Muslim country of 76 million people will ever be admitted to the European club.

Reopening Turkey's long-stalled bid for membership requires unanimity between the 27 member states, and as is often the case the ministers went into the meeting poles apart.

Sweden's Carl Bildt said he saw "no reason" to delay the accession talks until after the German polls.

"German elections are a good thing, but it cannot be an excuse for postponing everything else in Europe," he told AFP.

Engaging with Turkey

Turkey's accession "is the slowest accession process in the history of the European Union, and there hasn't been a chapter opened for years."

"I think this is an extremely important time to engage with Turkey. We want to influence events in Turkey, we don't want to walk away from Turkey," he said.

"It's very important to confirm our open door to Turkey. That's the political signal, that the door is open, that we want to take this new step."

Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn said it was vital for the EU to maintain relations with Turkey while clearly criticising the crackdown on the protests.

"We need to think less about the government than about the Turkish people," he said. "Millions of people in Turkey hope that the EU continues to put pressure" on the government.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...