The European Commission has recommended a partial suspension of Turkey’s negotiations to join the European Union. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, blew the whistle in Brussels: “We confirm that these negotiations must continue although at a slower pace. There will be no train crash. But there is a slowing down because of the works further down the tracks. However, the train continues to move.”
This came after a persistent failure to convince Turkey to honour what is called the Ankara Protocol with the EU, which carries an obligation for it to open its sea and air ports to Cyprus. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the suspension unacceptable, according to Turkish media. Eight out of the 35 negotiating chapters could be frozen. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Latvia, where leaders were gathered for the NATO summit, welcomed the Commission’s move – citing the Ankara Protocol.
The talks to be frozen include those on free movement of goods, services, agriculture, transport policy, customs and foreign relations. French president Jacques Chirac also welcomed the decision. But British Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier had expressed concern. Blair said: “Just at the moment to send an adverse signal to Turkey would be a serious mistake for Europe, long term.” Turkey wants concessions to help Turkish Cypriots in breakaway northern Cyprus. EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on December 11th to decide whether to back the recommendation.