EU, Turkey make progress on association

Dec. 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- European Neighborhood Commissioner Stefan Fule said Turkey moved a step closer to Europe through a visa liberalization effort.

Fule met in Brussels with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss Turkish readmission policies.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported Wednesday the Turkish government agreed to accept immigrants who entered the European Union through Turkish territory illegally. Ankara held out on concessions for Cyprus, a political adversary. The EU agreed to help Turkey with the financial costs associated with the readmission process.

"The imminent signature of a readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey and the launch of a dialogue toward visa liberalization will give new impetus to our joint project, and make it more tangible to citizens," Fule said in a statement Wednesday.

Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the EU. The latest phase of accession talks -- Chapter 22, dealing with regional policy -- began Nov 5.

The EU welcomed Turkish efforts to settle longstanding issues with the Kurdish minority but expressed political polarization concerns.

Nationwide protests in Turkey this year were described by the EU as a reaction to a democracy "relying exclusively on parliamentary majority, rather than a participative process in which all voices are heard."

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