EU opens door for Turkish accession

Oct. 22, 2013 at 11:21 AM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The Council of the European Union confirmed Tuesday it was opening a new chapter for Turkish accession to the EU.

The council issued a brief statement Tuesday saying it would resume accession negotiations with Turkey during a conference planned for Nov. 5 in Brussels.

Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the European Union. The EU said it was mindful of reforms needed for improved ties, notably steps taken to resolve issues with the Kurdish minority.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in September unveiled a sweeping package of reforms meant to resolve the 30-year conflict. Among his reforms were concessions for the Kurdish language and a reversal on the ban of the wearing of traditional headscarves by Muslim women.

The EU said in a report last week the political climate in Turkey is "marked by polarization." Nation-wide protests 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."

Accession talks were suspended following the protests.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry last week said it welcomed the recommendations from the EU in terms of political reforms but expressed frustration with criticism over its stance on Cyprus, an EU member.

Cyprus has been divided into a Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-occupied north since 1974. Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

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