France announced on Feb. 12 that it would assist Turkey in opening one of the five chapters once blocked by Paris for Ankara’s long-stalled EU membership talks.
After meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said they would assist Turkey with opening Article 22, entitled “Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments.”
“France will extend support to Turkey’s EU membership negotiations. We have told Turkish officials that we will assist them in opening chapter 22 to negotiations. We also had a chance to speak on technical issues. We have reached a consensus on consolidation of friendly relations with Turkey,” Fabius told reporters in Paris.
An international conference on Libya took place in the French capital with the participation of the foreign ministers of 14 countries, including Turkey. Five chapters were unilaterally blocked by France during former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s rule, but following the election of François Hollande last year, Paris softened its position on Turkey’s accession process.
Asked about French President Hollande’s visit to Turkey, Fabius said that such a visit was discussed but that no exact date had been set for the visit yet.
Davuto?lu confirmed France’s assistance over opening the chapter. “We have received strong message that France will lift its blockade [on one EU chapter]. We also discussed how Turkey’s membership will contribute to the EU regarding the developments in the Mediterranean dimension. I can say that an important hurdle in Turkey-EU relations will be cleared,” he said in Ankara.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Minister of EU Affairs Egemen Ba?is said the chapter regarding regional policies in Turkey's EU membership process would be opened to negotiations during Ireland's EU presidency, which started Jan. 1 and will continue until June 30. “We had good news today. The new French government has decided not to continue with the same hurdles of the previous government,” he said during an official visit to London.