Ankara rolls out new initiative to close chapters in EU accession process

Turkey has been preparing a new initiative to accelerate the accession process to the European Union (EU). Accordingly, Turkey will complete regulations for six more chapters, including fighting against terrorism, next month. The relations between Turkey and the EU entered a complicated period due to the EU’s negative stance against Turkey following the July 15, 2016 failed coup. Emergency measures taken by Turkey following the coup attempt drew negative criticism from the EU.

On the night of July 15, a small military junta, accused of being members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), tried to overthrow the democratically elected government and assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The coup plotters, who used heavy weaponry, including fighter jets, helicopters and tanks, against pro-democracy citizens that poured onto the streets, killed 251 people and wounded more than 2,200.

The state of emergency, which was declared for the first time in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt in 2016, expired last year. With the two-year emergency rule over, the government has stressed that its fight against terrorism will continue uninterrupted and necessary regulations will be enacted.

Leaving emergency measures behind, Turkey is ready for new reforms in accordance with the criteria proposed by the EU.

Diplomatic sources stated that Turkey already completed the Copenhagen Criteria, and now it is time for closing the remaining chapters in the accession process. Turkey’s journey to become a member of the EU has seen numerous ups and downs in the last 50 years. Turkey has always been open to cooperation, doing its part within the bounds of its capabilities in the negotiations, which started in 1963 with the Ankara Agreement. Yet, Turkey has been waiting for membership for decades as the EU keeps dragging its feet on the process.

In 1963, Turkey first signed the Ankara Agreement that foresaw the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods as part of integration in the customs union with the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of the EU, acknowledging the final goal of membership.

After a long interim period, Turkey signed the European Constitution in 2004, leading to negotiations for full membership to be launched in 2005, when the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was enjoying its first term in power. However, negotiations stalled once again in 2007 due to objections to opening chapters by the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus.

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