European Union governments have agreed to hold a new round of accession talks with Turkey on November 5.
The move comes after Germany dropped its opposition lodged after Ankara’s crackdown on anti-government protests earlier this year. It follows a three-year pause in Turkey’s bid.
Michael Link, Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We think it is the right signal to send out, to accelerate negotiations to join the EU. Only through pushing forward will we get the boost we need, to discuss the difficult points with Turkey as well. And I also think this will show the Turkish people, that the EU really does want to open up.”
Earlier this month, the European Commission praised recent judicial reforms in Turkey and the government’s announcement last month of a package of laws designed to salvage a peace process with Kurdish insurgents.
However it accused Turkish police of using excessive force in protests earlier this year. Six people died and more than 8,000 were hurt in two weeks of clashes in June.
Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying, but a series of political obstacles, notably over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.
The newly opened area – one of more than 30 that need to be discussed before Turkey can join – covers issues dealing with how a country spends EU aid targeted for poor regions.