7 November 2012 / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA – Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will be in Brussels today for talks on Turkey’s European Union membership bid, a Foreign Ministry statement has said. Davutoğlu’s visit comes after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s tour of Germany amid a stalemate in Turkey’s EU membership process.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged during the meeting with Erdoğan on Oct. 31 that the EU would continue to pursue talks “in good faith” over Turkey’s membership bid, despite disagreements that have become challenging for both sides. Her pledge came after Erdoğan warned that the EU was in danger of losing Turkey if it was not granted membership by 2023.
During the meeting in Berlin Erdoğan thanked Merkel for her support in the opening of accession talks with Turkey during her country’s term as EU president, appearing to blame France, rather than Germany, for the stalemate in the talks. “Germany, under both Christian Democrat and Social Democrat governments, has always supported Turkey,” he said, complaining, however, that the French administration under former President Jacques Chirac took up “a very negative attitude” towards Turkey. Foreign Minister Davutoğlu is scheduled to meet with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle during his visit. The Turkish minister will also meet with Belgium’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders. Turkish-Belgian bilateral relations as well as regional issues will be on the agenda for the meeting.
Reynders paid an official visit to Ankara last April for diplomatic talks with senior Turkish officials. During his visit, Reynders discussed bilateral relations, Turkey-EU relations and developments in the region. During his visit to Brussels, Davutoğlu will come together with the Turkish community living in Belgium and meet with the members of the European Parliament’s Friends of Turkey group. According to a statement released by the Information Department of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, at these meetings, all aspects of Turkey-EU relations, including the accession process, will be discussed, and an exchange of views on international and regional issues will take place.
The Syrian crisis and Turkey’s efforts on the issue, as well as EU-Turkey cooperation on resolving the conflict and the influx of Syrian refugees into Turkey, will top Davutoğlu’s agenda during his visit to Brussels. Davutoğlu will also open the photo exhibition titled “Time in Turkey” sponsored by Zaman — Today’s Zaman’s sister newspaper — currently marking its 25th year in print, and participate in a panel discussion titled “EU and Turkey: Facing the challenges of the Arab Spring,” together with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chairman of the Greens Group in the European Parliament.