Turkey must overcome internal divisions and get back to long-delayed reforms early next year to show it is serious about wanting to join the EU, the bloc’s enlargement chief told in an interview published Sunday. He added 2009 also must be the year of a comprehensive settlement for Cyprus.
BRUSSELS – Two more chapters for Turkey’s European Union membership where opened Friday, bringing the total opened chapter count to ten out of thirty-five. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan welcomes the opening of the two policy chapters, however the ongoing trouble in relations with Cyprus still remains the biggest hurdle to Turkish accession
What we have seen in the last three years is that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has wanted to draw its own parallel lines independent of the EU stance on the process.
Talks aimed at allowing Turkey to join the European Union are underway in Brussels. Negotiations began on two key issues relating to freedom of movement of capital and media reform. The mood was positive although the European Commissioner for Enlargement insisted Turkey still needed to make progress towards the reform of the labour sector and improve workers’ rights."
Observers of Turkish politics have been noting for the last few years that Turkey’s reform process — mostly spurred by the country’s European Union membership process — has basically come to a halt. Now there are concerns that beyond a stall, Turkey may actually be backsliding on the reform front. Two recent reports, both well worth reading, make this very clear.
"An abrupt and unusual word buried in a European Union declaration on Dec. 8 showed the mounting risks of a breakdown in Turkey’s EU membership talks.
It is quite clear that in terms of speeding up the tempo, or even keeping things lively, both the EU and Turkey are showing a "strong lack of desire" right now.
It’s quite amazing to read articles about the recent Greek riots in the foreign press — Turkish press included. Most columnists and analysts who reside outside Greece reproduce what they have already read in different Web sites and blogs based in Greece.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered Turkey’s services as a mediator between the United States and Iran. Although it’s not clear if Washington really needs Ankara’s help if it decides to start talking to the Iranians, the offer is part of Turkey’s ongoing effort to recast itself as a regional mediator and (soft) power broker.
In one case, the court has acquitted the transsexual singer Bulent Ersoy of speaking against military service (which is illegal) when she said on a TV program that if she had a son, she wouldn’t send him to fight. The court concluded that these were her personal thoughts and in line with her freedom of speech and thought. (click here)