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'EU doors should remain open for Turkey'

European commission chief Barroso expresses support for continuation of Turkey’s EU membership talks, during his visit to Berlin.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso expressed support on Wednesday for further progress in Turkey’s EU membership talks.

“The EU doors should remain open for Turkey,” Barroso told German newspaper Bild, during his visit to Berlin. “Turkey is a big country. It is economically and geopolitically an important country,” he underlined. “The reform process in Turkey is also in Europe’s interest; therefore we would like to continue the negotiations.”

In an attempt to dispel the worries of German public on future enlargement of the EU, Barroso also underlined that full membership is possible only when a candidate country fulfills the EU criteria.

“We would like to continue the negotiations with Turkey. But it is clear that accession is only possible when Turkey meets all the requirements,” European commission chief Barroso said. “At the end of the process, all EU member states should agree on accession. This will probably take some time,”

The stalled EU membership talks with Turkey are set for relaunch early next month after a three-year lull. EU ministers agreed on Tuesday for opening the next negotiating chapter in Turkey’s accession talks. This will be the 14th chapter opened by Turkey since 2005. As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations in 35 policy chapters, which foresee reforms and adoption of European standards, in various policy areas for its EU membership.

No chapters have been opened in Turkey’s EU accession talks in the past three years, mainly due to the Cyprus issue and the blockage by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who opposed Turkey's EU membership.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has also been skeptical about a full EU membership perspective to Turkey but she has recently offered a tacit support for the continuation of “open-ended” talks, without a pledge for full membership. As Merkel’s Christian Democrats are seeking to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SPD) after the September 22 elections, the new German government is expected to support progress in Turkey’s EU accession talks. German Social Democrats have promised strong support for progress in Turkey’s EU process during their election campaign.(AA)
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