Bloomberg News

Turkey’s Bid to Restart EU Talks Comes Under Protest Cloud

June 07, 2013

European Union criticisms of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s handling of a week of anti-government protests raised doubts whether Turkey’s long-stalled EU membership talks will restart as planned this month.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule appealed to Erdogan to observe “the highest possible democratic standards” and then left an Istanbul conference discouraged that the Turkish leader didn’t take the hint.

“Disappointed by the lost opportunity at the #Istanbul conference to reach out to those calling for respect & inclusive dialogue,” Fule said in a Twitter post that was confirmed by his spokesman.

Turkey’s response to the anti-Erdogan rallies that have spread nationwide may dictate whether the EU goes ahead with plans to resume the membership talks, which have gone nowhere since mid-2010.

The Irish government said May 27 that it intends to open talks with Turkey in one of the EU’s 35 policy areas before its six-month EU presidency ends on June 30. Any one of the bloc’s 27 countries could veto the restart.

At the conference, Fule called for an investigation into the excessive use of force by police and admonished Turkish leaders: “Democracy is a demanding discipline: not only during election campaigns, but every day.”

In response, Erdogan said a probe is under way, condemned violent methods used by protesters and expressed a willingness to listen to demands voiced in a proper democratic way.

Since starting down the EU road in October 2005, Turkey has begun talks in 13 policy areas and completed one. Croatia, which began its bid on the same day as Turkey, has finished the process and will join the EU next month.

To contact the reporter on this story: James G. Neuger in Brussels at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at

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