Just about a year ago, Burhan Kuzu, head of the Turkish National Assembly’s Constitution Committee and member of the AKP, the party in power, called the European Commission’s Progress Report for Turkey “garbage”, and actually threw a copy of it to the floor during an interview on national television! A year later, the most recent Progress Report has fortunately elicited a more positive reaction.
Several changes contributed to a more constructive climate. In February 2013, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that France was in favor of resuming accession talks with Turkey, the first gesture towards “repairing the damages” brought about to Franco-Turkish relations during the Sarkozy presidency (1). Following France’s footsteps, Angela Merkel declared that Germany was also favorable.
Talks should have resumed in June but the violent crackdown of Istanbul’s Taksim Square “Gezi” protests in May and June had a negative effect on members of the Union. It was not until October 22nd that representatives of the 28 member states have eventually decided – unanimously, as required by EU rules – to restart accession talks. Finally, after a three-year standstill, discussions resumed on November 5th with the opening of Chapter 22 on “Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments”, aiming at reducing socio-economic differences between regions.