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Brussels, 5 November 2013
EU-Turkey: Putting accession talks back on track, new chapter opened
The European Union and Turkey started today accession talks on a new chapter. At the Ministerial Accession Conference in Brussels Chapter 22 (Regional policy & coordination of structural instruments) was opened. After the Accession Conference Commissioner Štefan Füle said to the media:
‘I am glad that we have been able to open the 14th chapter in the accession negotiations with Turkey - chapter 22 on regional policy. It is important – because the last Accession Conference took place in June 2010, almost three and a half years ago.
Let me underline that Turkey is and remains an important partner for the EU. 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.
We need more engagement, not less. That is why I hope very much that we'll not be waiting another long period before another chapter is being opened.
I believe that the negotiations process remains the best vehicle for our engagement; and I hope that the EU will soon be in a position to clearly and explicitly set out the conditions Turkey needs to fulfil to open the two key chapters in the accession process: 23 and 24, dealing with basic EU values, with fundamental rights and freedoms.
I also count on today's accession conference to have a direct, positive effect on Turkey's reform efforts. To sustain this momentum, Turkey also needs to do its share and to make the necessary efforts to open other chapters in the process, such as chapter 5-public procurement, 8-competition and 19-social policy and employment.
Although this is not directly related to the accession negotiations – I'd like to express a strong hope and desire that today's achievement will be conducive to the signature by Turkey of the Readmission agreement and the launch of the Visa Dialogue, very soon. This is all the more important since these two processes can bring very tangible benefits for the citizens of Turkey.
Finally, I am looking forward to my visit to Istanbul and Ankara on Thursday and Friday at least as much as I look forward to the next accession conference opening another new chapter – hopefully much sooner than after three and a half years.’