(turkishdaily) - European Union membership negotiations with Turkey should continue despite last month's decision made by the bloc's leaders not to open entry talks with Ankara on eight out of 35 negotiating chapters, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Italian Premier Romano Prodi said.
Barroso said that the commission remains committed to the continuation of these negotiations for enlargement, notably for Turkey, but recognized that the process will be long and complex.
Speaking at a joint news conference after meeting with Prodi over breakfast, Barroso reiterated that to gain membership Ankara must comply with all conditions and criteria imposed by the EU. Prodi said Italy's position on the issue is identical to that of the commission, reports Trend.
The EU leaders' decision came at a December summit in response to Turkey's failure to open its sea and air ports to traffic from Greek Cyprus but Ankara has vowed, nevertheless, to press ahead with EU-inspired reforms, despite slamming the EU decision as unfair.
Turkey's Permanent Representative to the EU Volkan BozkСЌr said Turkey has adopted a new strategy to try to depoliticize its EU membership bid by quietly pressing ahead with adopting EU laws despite the bloc's decision to halt talks on eight chapters.
After absorbing the shock, we have decided we are not going to argue politically but will handle this at a professional level, Ambassador BozkСЌr said in an interview. Politics won't add more to an already fragile situation.
Ankara eschewed the temptation to retaliate by reducing its own cooperation with Brussels, for example on the EU's common foreign and defense policies, as some hardliners had proposed.
The retaliation idea has gone, he said. Instead, the government has instructed ministries to draft plans by the end of this month to adopt EU legislation in all policy areas to be ready for accession by the end of 2013.
There's a kind of fatigue on both sides [EU and Turkey], so we decided to proceed without waiting for the EU to open each negotiating chapter by doing our own homework in Ankara, BozkСЌr said. Turkey would enlist the advice of the European Commission to ensure its legislation was EU-compatible.
So when the EU decides or has a more permissive environment to open chapters, Turkey will start more ready. So time will not be lost, he said. Aides of EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn welcomed the Turkish initiative.
Turkey has so far completed only one chapter вЂ" Science and Research вЂ" since the opening of membership talks in October 2005. Greek Cyprus blocked the opening of any other negotiating chapter last year and it is uncertain whether it will now allow talks on some of the policy areas not suspended to go ahead.
BozkСЌr made clear there would be no early move to comply with the EU's demands on trade with Greek Cyprus, or to amend a disputed penal code article used to prosecute journalists and intellectuals for insulting Turkishness.
A presidential election in May and parliamentary polls due in November make such sensitive political gestures unrealistic, and the EU's December decision removed any time pressure. There is no hurry any more, he said.
He said the new strategy had the advantage of making clearer to public opinion that Turkey was adopting these laws for its own benefit and not under pressure from Brussels.