EU, Turkey open new diplomatic chapter

BRUSSELS, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Turkey and the European Union started negotiations on a new phase of association following a three year break, the EU's neighborhood policy commissioner said.

European Union Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said from Brussels the latest phase of accession talks -- Chapter 22, dealing with regional policy -- began Tuesday.


"Let me underline that Turkey is and remains an important partner for the EU," he said in a statement. "The developments in Turkey over the past year underline the importance of continued EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey."

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.

The EU said in an October report the political climate in Turkey is "marked by polarization." Nationwide 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."

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement published by Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said "political motives" interfering with accession should be "removed immediately."


Fule said he was planning to visit Turkey later this week.

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