The Chair of the General Affairs Council, Eamon Gilmore, today said:
I am delighted to announce that this morning, at the General Affairs Council, we agreed to open a new chapter in accession negotiations with Turkey. The Inter Governmental Conference with Turkey will take place later this year.
At the outset of the Irish Presidency, we undertook to reinvigorate the accession talks with Turkey. To that end, we, along with the Commission, the Member States and our Turkish colleagues, have worked hard over the last number of months to prepare this Chapter 22 on Regional policy.
While we have been disturbed by the reaction to the recent peaceful protests in Turkey, I believe that the EU accession process is most effective tool we have in influencing the reform agenda in Turkey. EU-inspired reforms have facilitated the increasing space for peaceful protest and dissenting voices.
The protests have also shown that Turkey needs further reform. Moving ahead with the EU accession process by opening Chapter 22 will, I believe, allow the EU to continue contributing to shaping the direction of future reform in Turkey.