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Friday, July 8, 2011

A Turkish Perspective on the Stalled Talks | Today's Zaman

On June 27, Abdullah Bozkurt had a good column in Today's Zaman that I missed, in which he lays out the Turkish perspective on the stalled accession negotiations. For one thing, he raises the issue of missing screening report results:
After inquiring why in the world the EU has not even disclosed the results of screening chapters it completed in 2006 on Turkey, I was told by officials in Brussels that the ball is with the European Council, and some member states are blocking the announcement of the results.
This is just yet another sign of what Christophe Hillion has described as the "creeping (re)nationalization" of the enlargement screening process (recall that the European Council is where the member states are represented). Except that it is now less "creeping" than blatant. I will post more on Hillion's argument and this issue another time.

Bozkurt also raises an issue that Turkish officials have spoken to me about as well: that is, the matter of the chronology or order of chapters to be opened. Turks complain that in Turkey's case, the EU wants to start with the toughest knot first, but that this is not how it is usually done:
For the first time during a six-month-long rotating EU presidency, held by Belgium between July 1, 2010, and Jan. 1, 2011, we ended without opening a single negotiation chapter. The Hungarian presidency, due to end at the end of this month, also failed to deliver on its promise to open a chapter on competition policy. To add insult to injury, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle argued that the ball is in Turkey's court to break the deadlock on the competition chapter.

What Füle forgets to mention is that candidate countries usually leave the competition talks to the last because it not only requires complicated work but also brings a huge cost to the candidate. That is why Croatia, which started talks at the same time as Turkey in 2005, left this chapter to the final round of talks and opened negotiations last summer. It is not fair to push this chapter on Turkey at a point where we have not even made it halfway through the accession process.
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