In new strategy for EU bid, Turkey appealing to individual states
Turkey is proactively attempting to speed up stalled negotiations with the European Union by taking the initiative to negotiate with individual member states. Yesterday's visit by Poland's foreign minister will quickly be followed by visits from his counterparts from Austria (today) and France (next week), two countries in the 27-nation EU that are especially cool towards Turkey's membership. Poland will hold the EU's rotating term presidency in the second half of next year. "We're sure that Turkish-EU relations will gain momentum in this period," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Radoslaw Sikorski. "Poland is a country which can well understand Turkey regarding the Cyprus issue, the EU and NATO, and technical matters," he added. "We have high expectations from Poland and have full confidence." Turkey has so far opened 13 out of 33 negotiating chapters in the accession process, which is moving slowly for a number of reasons, including a row over Ankara's refusal to open its ports to EU member Greek Cyprus, and the blunt opposition of some states to Turkish membership. Sikorski voiced full support to Turkish membership, saying they would do their best to open at least one negotiation chapter when they are at the EU's helm next year, as well as try to resolve the conflict between NATO and the EU stemming from the lack of a solution to the Cyprus problem. "We'll be working to solve the problem so Turkey's EU way is clear," he said. Davutoglu also denied claims that flying the Turkish flag had been banned in Azerbaijan. "There is no crisis in Turkish-Azeri ties," he said. "Nobody should ever try to give the impression that there is a problem in our relationship."