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TURKEY: The EU must not “freeze” talks, says Bonino Chapters on rights and justice should be opened

The European Union cannot, and must not, “freeze” negotiations with Turkey, nor can it give in to its instinctive reaction to adopt a harder and more closed stance in the face of events. For Turkey’s accession negotiations, Europe should open not just Chapter 22 (regional policy) but also the chapters on rights and justice.

These were Foreign Minister Emma Bonino’s comments in the Senate, as she illustrated the decision taken on by the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on Monday 24 June. As Minister Bonino underscored, “We need to keep the channel for dialogue open, otherwise we’ll lose any opportunities for influence”.

Foreign Affairs Council – Turkey’s reaction

The decisions taken by Monday’s FAC in Luxembourg marked an important step that reflects the Italian position. “And the compromise formula of a postponement until further discussion can take place in the autumn was also welcomed by Turkey”, commented Bonino, referring to her recent telephone conversation with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also appreciated the solution reached in Luxembourg. Europe’s 27 foreign ministers avoided a stalemate and even countries initially opposed to opening the negotiation chapter accepted this step forward.

Turkey a strategic partner for Italy

Turkey is a strategic partner for Italy, as Minister Bonino pointed out, with 1000 Italian companies operating there. “Stability in Turkey and anchoring the country more closely to Europe are essential for our investment and our economic interests. We need to declare this openly and transparently”.

The European Union has opened Chapter 22 of the negotiations (regional policy) with Turkey, as Bonino reported. “But I observed that we should also have opened chapters 23 and 24, on justice and the fundamental rights, well before now. That would have been a more effective way to influence the Turkish government’s policies and send a signal to the people who are demonstrating for their rights”.

Cast light on episodes of violence

Minister Bonino added that the Italian Government will continue to raise awareness in the Turkish Government to ensure that it fully investigates the events that occurred during the demonstrations, “including cases of violence against women, which to date have not been officially confirmed”.