Turkey hopes for progress in EU membership talks
Turkey's EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir has expressed hope for achieving progress in the EU membership talks and dispelling negative perception of the country in the West, Anadolu agency reported.
Bozkir made the remarks following his meeting with former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Turkish embassy in Berlin Wednesday.
"Unfortunately, we have witnessed in the last three years a growing negative perception of Turkey among Germans," he said.
Referring to the new EU reform program, he said "I believe that by dispelling the false image of Turkey, we would achieve more progress in Turkey's EU process and in strengthing our bilateral relations."
The Turkish minister, who assumed office in late August, is on a two-day visit to Berlin to convince EU heavyweight Germany to use its influence in the 28-member bloc to help revive Turkey's stalled EU membership talks.
Bozkir described Schroeder as a "respected and a visionary politician" and expressed the hope that his meeting would help present the "real picture" of Turkey to the German public.
Schroeder, who is also a prominent social democrat politician, had convinced other EU leaders in 2004 for opening membership talks with Turkey.
However, Germany's current chancellor and Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel has been skeptical about giving a full membership to Turkey.
Merkel's Christian Democrats have long opposed full EU membership of Turkey, but it agreed as part of their coalition agreement with the Social Democratic Party in 2013 that accession talks with the country should continue in an "open-ended" way, without a pledge for full membership.
The opposition to Turkey's EU membership among Germans increased from 52 percent in 2005 to 69 percent in 2014, according to a representative poll by Forsa Institute last May.
Bozkir also said that recent developments in the Middle East had shown that EU and Turkey needed each other more than ever.
"EU, Turkey and Germany share common interests," he said.
Turkey's EU process stalled last year because of the Cyprus issue and opposition of some EU member states to Turkey's full membership.
As a candidate country, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters, which foresee reforms and adoption of European standards, in various policy areas for its EU membership. Since 2005, Turkey has started negotiations on 14 chapters.
Only one chapter could be opened in the past three years, mainly due to the Cyprus issue and the blockage by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who opposed Turkey's EU membership.
Germany's state minister for EU affairs Michail Roth had announced Tuesday Berlin's support for opening negotiation Chapters 23 and 24 on "judiciary and fundamental rights" and "justice, freedom and security" following a meeting with Bozkir.