Turkey committed to EU membership, says top negotiator August 8, 2010Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
Tags: EU, Turkey
Turkey’s chief negotiator for the European Union talks, Egemen Bağış, has reiterated his country’s resolute commitment to joining the bloc, adding that Turkey had taken concrete steps to achieve that goal.
“Turkey is still able and committed in its EU harmonization process. The AKP [Justice and Development Party] government is taking firm steps, including a recent constitutional reform package on the path to EU membership,” Anatolia news agency quoted Bağış as saying in a letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.
“Our goal is to become one of the respected members of the European Union,” he added. The top negotiator also said that political obstacles against Turkey’s EU membership were discouraging and they disappointed Turkish public opinion about promises the EU had made.
After the EU’s encouraging gesture in late June, Turkey opened talks on 13 of the 35 policy chapters, which all EU candidate nations must successfully negotiate prior to membership.
However, so far only one of those chapters has been satisfactorily dealt with and closed. Formal negotiations on Turkey’s EU membership started in 2005, but have moved at glacial pace due to both lack of reform and French and German opposition.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy argues that Turkey does not belong to Europe, and, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, says the country should be given special partnership status rather than full membership.
Turkey’s refusal to deal normally with EU member Greek Cyprus is another major problem. Its position straddling Europe and Asia between the Christian and Muslim worlds, is displayed by its membership in both NATO and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
EU’s June gesture comes amid a deepening rift between one-time allies Turkey and Israel and fears that Turkey is turning to the East. The two countries had been close allies since a 1996 military cooperation deal, but relations nose-dived amid sharp Turkish criticism of Israel’s devastating war on Gaza at the end of 2008.
The European Union’s enlargement chief said earlier June that Turkey’s growing involvement in Middle East affairs does not contradict its bid to join the bloc, in remarks published Monday.
His comments came as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued that the EU’s failure to offer Turkey a swift accession process was one of the factors behind the perceived shift in Ankara’s foreign policy.
While insisting that Turkey is committed to its links to both the East and the West, Ankara has also often expressed bitterness over the slow pace of its EU membership talks.