Some experts expect doldrums in Turkish-EU relations to continue
The current doldrums in Turkish-European Union ties may become permanent if action is not taken soon, some experts are warning. Some senior officials and observers decry the current stalemate in opening additional chapters and suggest that Turkey open its ports to Cyprus to allow several blocked chapters to be opened, while noting Turkey's focus on freer visa requirements. While Ankara's accession talks are near a dead end, many believe the lull in Turkey's negotiations will be a prolonged one, unless "something dramatic" takes place. "There is a siesta in Turkish-EU relations. Nothing is moving. Nothing is happening," Amanda Paul, from the European Policy Center, said last week. A candidate country needs to conclude negotiations on 33 policy areas, or chapters, to become a member of the 27-nation bloc, but only 13 chapters have been opened since Turkey's EU accession negotiations began in October 2005. There are only three chapters remaining which are not politically blocked. Talks on the rest of the chapters are suspended due to French objections as well as the Cyprus problem. The situation will technically reach a dead end soon, once the three remaining chapters are opened. Turkey has been working to secure a visa facilitation agreement with the EU that can revive public enthusiasm for the membership bid. The government is ready to sign the readmission agreement, a document regulating the treatment of illegal migrants crossing Europe via Turkey, a condition requested by the EU for visa facilitation. But as Turkey's history with the EU is one of undelivered promises, the government does not want to sign it before securing a guarantee from the EU that it will go ahead with visa facilitation after the pact is signed. The European Commission, Turkey's contact on this issue, is unable to give this guarantee, since the issue is sensitive as anti-immigration and xenophobic trends remain high among the European public.