Turkish and EU officials will hold a meeting today to discuss Ankara's long-running bid to join the bloc, but there are fears that the German government's threats targeting Ankara will negatively affect today's meeting in Brussels.
Speaking to the press at the European Commission, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said the bloc's aim is to find constructive solutions to the issues between Ankara and Brussels. When asked about the Turkey-Germany row, Hahn said he does not see himself as a mediator and that that if today's meeting bears positive outcomes, it would also affect relations between Ankara and Berlin.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU Minister Ömer Çelik will represent Turkey in the meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Hahn.Çelik recently said that "the backbone of the relationship between Turkey and the EU is accession negotiations," adding that Turkey will continue to strive to open more chapters in negotiations. When asked about Ankara's calls for opening Chapters 23 and 24, which concern human rights and rule of law, Hahn said there is a "clear decision by member states in December" that no negotiation chapters would be opened "under current circumstances." Turkey argues that if the EU is concerned with human rights then it should open the related chapters to work on the criticized matters.
Expansion of the scope of the customs union agreement with Turkey is one of the major topics that will be discussed in the meeting. Hahn said the "current climate" will not pave way for a "rapid implementation" of the upgrade that will "benefit the both sides." The European Commission has officially been authorized to update the customs union agreement with Turkey. EU member states transferred the authority to negotiate to the European Commission to expand the scope of the agreement with Turkey, which was signed in 1995.