EU lawmakers call for speeding up Turkey's accession

ANADOLU AGENCY
ANKARA
Published 06.11.2015 23:42

With the end of the Turkish elections, European Parliament members say it is time to advance talks on Turkey's accession into the European Union.

"As the legislative elections are now behind, I think the moment has come for the EU and Turkey to engage consistently in accession talks," Cristian Dan Preda, lawmaker for the Christian Democrats, told Anadolu Agency (AA).

"New chapters of negotiations should be opened in the following months, including in the area of justice and fundamental freedoms," Dan Preda said.

Parts of Turkey's EU accession procedure that comprises reforms in economic, political, judicial and other areas in chapters have been blocked. Chapter 23 on judiciary and fundamental rights, and Chapter 24 on justice, freedom and security, were blocked by the Greek Cyprus despite the European Commission and European Parliament calling for them to be opened.

"It is time for the EU to also advance in the enlargement negotiations with Turkey and open new chapters," Victor Bostinaru, a lawmaker for the Socialists and Democrats, told AA.

"Negotiations can only allow us to identify the problematic areas and start discussing the solutions," Bostinaru said.Out of 35 chapters, 14 chapters have been opened and 17 remain blocked, including chapter 17 on economic and monetary polic

y and chapter 26 on education and culture.

The Cyprus issue remains a major obstacle to Turkey's EU accession process.

Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades resumed talks on reunifying the island following Akıncı's election in April. Negotiations were resumed following a two-year hiatus in February 2013, but stalled in October last year after a row over hydrocarbon exploration around the island.

Kati Piri, the Turkey rapporteur for European Parliament, told AA that a solution to the Cyprus issue would result in the opening of many chapters for Turkey's EU accession.

However, Piri underlined that opening chapters on justice, home affairs and media freedom would speed up the accession talks.

"The [European] Parliament has always been in favor of opening those chapters that deal with justice and home affairs [and] media freedom?[what] would be helpful in order to accelerate that process is if we could also see some positive developments in that field in Turkey," she said.

Refugee action plan

Faced with the worst migrant crisis since World War II, the EU is in the process of negotiating with Turkey on a refugee action plan under which the 28-nation bloc has offered Turkey funds to reduce the flow of asylum seekers coming into Europe in exchange for easier visa travel rules for Turkish citizens seeking to visit Europe.

"We have to acknowledge the crucial Turkish role in hosting millions of Syrian refugees," Bostinaru said. "The EU has to continue to support the efforts of Turkey and strengthen EU-Turkey cooperation on the management of the crisis."

The Turkish government, according to official figures, has so far spent $7.6 billion on around 2.5 million refugees in the country.

"The European Union, together with Turkey, should not only discuss financial aspects but define a clear plan on how to provide adequate humanitarian care and access to education to all refugees, in EU and in Turkey, in order to allow their integration into the societies," Bostinaru said.

EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday that 710,000 asylum seekers had entered the EU within the first nine months of the year, with many travelling through Turkey.

"The refugee action plan has shown that in order to be able to tackle the major regional crisis, the EU and Turkey need to work hand-in-hand," Dan Preda said.

"I am confident that in the following months, with the support of the future Turkish government, the cooperation will increase in the framework of the action plan and beyond," he said.

On Oct.18, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also pushed for a new start in the Turkey-EU accession talks during her visit to Turkey where she met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

"Germany is ready this year to open Chapter 17, and make preparations for [Chapters] 23 and 24," Merkel said. "We can talk about the details," she added.

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