EU must weigh cost of leaving Turkey outside: Minister

Turkey urged EU to contemplate the cost of spurning its candidacy.

EU must weigh cost of leaving Turkey outside: Minister


Turkey urged the European Union on Wednesday to contemplate the cost of spurning its candidacy.

The secular but largely Muslim state has made slow progress since opening accession talks five years ago, held back by resistance in key EU states.

Ankara has repeatedly expressed disappointment over the pace of negotiations, covering 35 policy areas known as "chapters", and said the EU needs to recognise Turkey's importance to the bloc's foreign policy goals.

"It is time to think ... about the cost of leaving Turkey outside," Egemen Bagis, Turkey's chief negotiator, told a news conference after agreeing on the opening of talks on food safety and veterinary rules with EU officials.

Turkey has concluded only one chapter so far and opened 13.

Deflecting Turkey's frustration, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said Wednesday's move gave "tangible evidence of the commitment of the EU to pursue progress".

But Ankara also needed to speed up reforms and meet its obligations. "This is an issue of credibility for both the EU and Turkey," Fuele said.

Cyprus is blocking the opening of several policy areas because of a row over the Turkish part in north of the Mediterranean island which only Ankara recognises as a state. It wants Ankara to open up ports to Greek Cypriot traffic.

Turkey has refused to do so until the EU ends the isolation of northern Cyprus.

Turkey also faces resistance from other EU critics, led by France and Germany, who say cultural differences will make it too difficult to integrate the country into the bloc. France has blocked talks on five areas it says imply eventual membership.

Ankara's supporters, led by Britain and Sweden, say the EU can benefit from Turkey's role as an intermediary in the Middle East and needs its cooperation in securing energy supply routes.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos who chaired Wednesday's talks on the last day of Madrid's six-month EU presidency, said he expected more policy chapters to be opened in the coming months.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Temmuz 2010, 08:45