The Turkish government has expressed its willingness to work on the Acquis Communautaire, calling on the European Union to swiftly open all remaining chapters.
Turkey is ready to cooperate with the 28-nation bloc on the opening of all remaining chapters in the Acquis Communautaire, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hüseyin Müftüoğlu told reporters at a press conference in Ankara on Friday.
“The president, prime minister and EU minister are ready for the opening of all chapters. … As our EU Minister [Ömer Çelik] has already said, Turkey is willing to move quickly once the 23rd and the 24th chapters are opened,” Müftoğlu said.
While the Chapter 23 is on judicial and fundamental rights, the Chapter 24 is on justice, security and freedoms.
Even though Brussels had pledged to speed up the opening of chapters in a deal reached in March 2016, the 28-nation bloc has so far ‘failed’ to fulfill the promises.
Responding to a question about a statement by the president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, who said that they may stop supporting Turkey’s EU membership bid, Müftüoğlu said: “The statement is more of a political evaluation. We perceive it as a message to their own voters.”
The spokesperson commented on Ankara’s offer to the EU on the visa liberalization issue. Stressing that the offer is being prepared with the coordination of multiple ministries, Müftüoğlu said that it has not been presented to Brussels yet.
Turkey and the EU signed a refugee deal in March 2016, which aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The agreement also pledged to accelerate visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area that comprises most EU states. However, Brussels has demanded that Ankara soften its anti-terror laws since then. The issue of changing counterterrorism laws has so far brought the talks to a halt.
Turkey must meet 72 criteria before being granted visa-free travel and although Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria, the anti-terror laws remain a disputed point.
Müftüoğlu underscored that Ankara continues to work on the visa-liberalization issue.