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Friday, February 15, 2013

France's softened stance opens the board

Only weeks after the end of the Cypriot presidency and all kinds of interesting things are happening.

Just a few days ago, the French foreign minister stated that France is removing its opposition to opening new negotiating chapters with Turkey, and stated that “France will extend support to Turkey’s EU membership negotiations."

This is a major development because France, under former president Sarkozy, was one of the key opponents of continuing the negotiations that begun in 2005.

France now wants to open Chapter 22 - "Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments."

Add to this the positive signs in the difficult negotiations with the PKK and the potential for the presidential elections on Cyprus to change the status quo and a lot can still happen on the Turkey-EU front.

(Btw, posting this while walking to the office:)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Turkey: EU political benchmarks 'were never given to us' | EurActiv

Interesting report from According to a high-level Turkish official in the Ministry for EU Affairs, the detailed benchmarks for what is needed to open two key negotiating chapters (pertaining to democracy and fundamental rights) were never sent to Turkey.
Burak Erdenir, deputy undersecretary at the Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs, said Ankara was never given the promised benchmark criteria that are needed to open the two controversial EU accession chapters covering justice, freedom and fundamental rights, also referred to as chapters 23 and 24.
Here's how the EU describes the process of opening chapters:
Screening – the Commission carries out a detailed examination, together with the candidate country, of each policy field (chapter), to determine how well the country is prepared. The findings by chapter are presented by the Commission to the Member States in the form of a screening report. The conclusion of this report is a recommendation of the Commission to either open negotiations directly or to require that certain conditions – opening benchmarks - should first be met.
In Turkey's case, the benchmarks are of course important since the EU's progress reports have been harsh in their criticism of the areas in question. The two chapters are not part of the eight chapters that were blocked in the 2006 Council decision.

Erdenir suggests that this is a deliberate strategy to delay the accession talks:
“You can’t ask us to complete benchmarks which were never given to us and then bash Turkey on lacking political reforms – it simply makes no sense,” Erdenir said.
I have not found any comments from inside the EU.

Turkey: EU political benchmarks 'were never given to us' | EurActiv
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