Spain sees EU progress for Turkey in two months

* Spain wants to open new negotiation chapters
with Turkey

* Ankara needs deep reforms to join EU

* Cyprus election could complicate EU talks

By Justyna Pawlak

BRUSSELS, May 10 (BestGrowthStock) – Turkey should make
some progress in its negotiations to join the European
Union in the next two months, Spain’s foreign minister
said on Monday, urging the bloc to intensify its
cooperation with Ankara.

Speaking after a regular meeting to assess
Turkey’s readiness to join the 27-member union, Miguel Angel
Moratinos said the EU would “certainly” open new areas of talks
before Spain’s presidency of the EU ends on June 30.

“Chapters will be opened during the Spanish presidency,” he
told a news conference after speaking with Turkish officials in

Since their launch in 2005, Turkey’s accession talks have
progressed slowly because of a dispute with EU member Cyprus
over a Turkish enclave on the Mediterranean island which has led
Cyprus to block the opening of some policy areas, or “chapters”.

Turkey’s membership is a divisive issue in Europe where
centre-right governments in Germany and France, worried about
cultural differences, have signalled their opposition to letting
the largely Muslim nation of 72 million people join.

But Moratinos said the EU should “further accelerate and
consolidate bilateral commitments” with Ankara.

Supporters of its membership point to Turkey’s strategic
importance to Europe because of its role as a mediator in the
Middle East and its control over energy passageways.

EU officials say the next negotiation policy area likely to
be opened deals with Turkish adherence to food safety standards
in the EU. But some say progress could be hampered by a slow
legislative process.


Turkish officials in Brussels reiterated pledges to press on
with reforms, but expressed frustration over “political
barriers” put up by EU member states.

“Our country’s determination is still valid,” said Turkey’s
chief negotiator Egemen Bagis. “Trying to get into the EU is
like riding a bicycle, you have to keep pedalling. And that’s
what we are doing.”

The EU’s enlargement chief Stefan Fuele said it was possible
some negotiations chapters would be opened this year but that
more reforms were key in Turkey.

These include a need for better rule of law, a more
effective fight against corruption, protection of human rights
and more separation between civil and military authorities.

Accession talks could be further complicated if peace talks
on Cyprus between the Greek community and the breakaway northern
province, recognised only by Ankara, founder after an election
last month brought to power a hardline Turkish Cypriot leader.

Talks are expected to resume later in May. New Turkish
Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu has pledged to resume talks where
they left off. But EU officials privately express concern over
increased difficulties in reuniting the island.

Turkish officials also held talks with the EU’s foreign
policy chief Catherine Ashton, on cooperation regarding Iran.

Turkey is trying to mediate between the Islamic Republic and
the West on its controversial nuclear programme in an effort to
prevent a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran.

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Spain sees EU progress for Turkey in two months