The European Union will resume entry talks with Turkey after a three-year halt, three officials said, seeking to give the Turkish government an incentive to strengthen civil rights.
Representatives of the 28 EU governments agreed today in Luxembourg to the restart, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they’re not authorized to speak publicly. Turkey’s bid had been postponed in June after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suppressed civic protests against his decade at the helm.
While Turkey will still be a long way from getting in, the European Commission said the prospect of membership is the best way of turning the country into a European-style democracy.
Turkey has a “pressing need to develop a truly participatory democracy, able to reach out to all segments of society,” and advancing the entry bid would be “an important step,” the Brussels-based commission, which manages EU enlargement, said last week.
The EU’s post-Cold War expansion reached an interim climax in July with the arrival of Croatia, once part of Yugoslavia. Croatia, which started the process on the same day as Turkey in 2005, took eight years to be admitted.
During the same time, Turkey has made it only 1/35th of the way through a checklist of legislative and policy changes required of would-be members. The stalemate reflects the EU’s waning appetite to take in new countries as the debt crisis and recession drive up unemployment and give rise to nationalist stirrings, in both rich and poor EU countries.
The next phase of talks will align Turkey’s regional affairs policies with EU norms. A date for the negotiating session will be set by European affairs ministers at a meeting in Luxembourg tomorrow.