EU takes step toward Turkey for reform's sake

June 26, 2013 at 11:33 AM

LUXEMBOURG, June 26 (UPI) -- Bringing Turkey closer to the European Union is the best way to encourage broad-based reforms, the Irish presidency to the EU said.

Turkey aspires to a closer bilateral relationship with the EU. European leaders said Ankara's case was bolstered by a recent peace agreement with the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, but hampered by the recent recent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said an EU decision to open a new chapter of negotiations with Turkey was the right step to take.

"I believe that the EU accession process is the most effective tool we have in influencing the reform agenda in Turkey," he said in a statement Wednesday.

EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fule said members states agreed to engage further with the Turkish government. Coordination would help Turkey address problems like the Kurdish issue and cope with the Syrian refugee crisis.

"I believe this is also a clear response to many of those who have been demonstrating peacefully in recent weeks as it should strengthen our efforts to engage with Turkey and re-establish the relevance of the EU-related reforms as the benchmark for Turkey," he said in a statement

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