Turkish Prime Minister Rajab Tayyip Erdogan has inched his country forward in its troubled bid for European Union membership.
He has agreed to open negotiations on tax reforms needed to enter the bloc. The secular, but mainly Muslim state has made slow progress since launching accession talks with the EU in 2005, held back by resistance to its bid by some EU states and its failure to step up the speed of reforms. Egemen Bagis, Turkish State Minister, the Chief Negotiator with the EU said: “Our primary expectation in the period ahead is to start negotiations on those chapters which are ready to be open, but have long been held up for reasons other than technical requirements.” Talks in eight areas of reform have been frozen not least because of Ankara’s refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels. The European Commission is due to review the decision in December but there has been no progress in the dispute. But as Sweden – a supporter of Turkey’s entry hopes – takes over the six month rotating EU presidency it is likely more negotiating chapters will be opened this year.