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Minister urges EU to work on Turkey accession bid

May 10, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Turkey’s EU affairs minister yesterday urged the EU to open new chapters to speed up Turkey’s accession process.

Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Omer Celik said: “Turkey has the confidence to lay claim to democratic values in terms of improving itself.”

Celik also said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could possibly meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker at a NATO summit in Brussels on 25 May.

In recent months, Turkish leaders have been increasingly vexed about what they see as the EU’s double standards in excluding Turkey from membership, accusing it of racism and supporting terrorism.

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Erdogan has suggested a referendum on whether Turkey will continue with its EU accession bid, as well as a poll on reintroducing the death penalty, a development that would effectively end Ankara’s EU ambitions.

Turkey applied for membership of the EU in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

Negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 because of Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue. The German and French governments also opposed the country’s full EU membership.

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

That deal also allowed for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises mostly EU states.

In a joint statement in November 2015, the EU and Turkey confirmed their commitments to re-energise the accession process.

However, the European Parliament later approved a non-binding motion to freeze EU-membership talks with Turkey.