Croatia to step up support for Turkey's EU bid in term presidency

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ANKARA
Published 29.05.2019 00:14

Croatia will put serious effort toward Turkey's long-running EU accession process during Zagreb's mandate in the rotating presidency of the European Council, which starts at the beginning of 2020, the country's envoy to Ankara said yesterday.

"Croatia will need Turkey's support in the preparation period for the term presidency. During its tenure, Croatia will put serious effort for Turkey's EU bid," Croatian Ambassador Hrvoje Cvitanovic told reporters during his visit to the governor of western Turkey's Eskişehir.

Romania currently holds EU's rotating presidency since Jan. 1, 2019. EU countries take turns occupying the presidency for six-month terms. The position involves setting the bloc's agenda and acting as a diplomatic go-between among the 28 members.

In 1963, Turkey first signed the Ankara Agreement that foresaw the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods as part of integration in the customs union with the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the EU, acknowledging the final goal of membership.

After a long interim period, Turkey signed the European Constitution in 2004, leading to negotiations for full membership to be launched in 2005, during the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) first term in power. However, the negotiations stalled once again in 2007 due to objections to open chapters by the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus.

Cvitanovic also emphasized developing bilateral relations, saying that Croatia will present Turkey significant opportunities in accession and attachment with Europe. "[Croatia] will not contribute to Turkey only in trade but also in transportation. Croatia will open its doors to Turkey at heart," he said.

For his part, Eskişehir governor Özdemir Çakacak said Turkey and Croatia have strong ties and bilateral relations have been gradually developing.

During President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's meeting with his Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in Ankara in January, two countries decided to launch a joint economic commission (JEC) mechanism and will convene together with the broad participation of Turkish and Croatian businesspeople in order to reach the goal of increased trade volume between the two sides.

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