EU restarts membership talks with Turkey after 3-year hiatus

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The European Union agreed Tuesday to restart membership talks with Turkey next month after a three-year hiatus.

EU European Affairs ministers said the talks would resume on Nov. 5.

In June, the 28-nation bloc agreed to revive the stagnated talks but were postponed again after anti-government protests in Turkey and the regime’s corresponding tough crackdown in Taksim Square left 8,000 injured and six people killed.

Germany, historically opposed to Turkish entry into the EU, blocked the start of new talks with Turkey. President Angela Merkel said she was “shocked” at the force used by the regime in response to peaceful protests.

More recently, the European Commission praised Turkey for its judicial reforms earlier this month, after the government announced laws intended to salvage a peace process with Kurdish insurgents.

"Recent developments in Turkey underline the importance of EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey,” said EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele. He added that the accession talks should be sped up to help Ankara implement democratic reforms.

The accession process has been wrought with complications since its conception. Opponents of the move question the future of the EU’s identity. The country’s population of 76 million is projected to surpass the population of Germany by 2020, making it the largest member in the EU.

Proponents of Turkey’s inclusion into the supranational body point to the country’s booming economy, large military force and position as a key regional power as an asset to the EU.

Negotiations for Turkey accession began in 2005, 18 years after applying. A sequence of political challenges has hindered the process, including disagreements over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership by Germany and France.

To accede to the EU, Turkey must undergo negotiations with the European Commission on 33 of the 35 chapter in the acquis communautaire, the body of EU law. If this is successful, all member states must unanimously agree on Turkey’s membership.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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