Turkish EU Minister urges EU for more chapters

Cavusoglu warns of 'double standards' in EU outlook on Turkey politics, defends judicial reform and Twitter block during Turkey-EU talks.

Cavusoglu warns of 'double standards' in EU outlook on Turkey politics, defends judicial reform and Twitter block during Turkey-EU talks.

BRUSSELS (AA) - Turkey’s European Union Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called on the EU to open more chapters to negotiations in the country's bid to join the 28-member bloc.

During the 74th meeting of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee on Thursday, Cavusoglu addressed criticism Turkey faced from EU members for its recent judicial reform and blocking access to websites Twitter and YouTube.

“We have conveyed it to the EU very clearly that we are ready to compare Turkey’s law with the best practices in the EU and make necessary changes if we are behind,” he told the committee.

Cavusoglu called for the opening of the chapter on judiciary and fundamental rights, as well as the one on justice, freedom and security, and that on energy.

Turkey's EU membership negotiations have recently progressed erratically, with relations almost frozen for three years before a new chapter - No. 22 on regional policies - was opened to negotiations in November last year.

- ‘Double standard’

Cavusoglu warned European leaders of “double standard” in their approach to Turkey’s judicial law reform.

He said Turkey would not accept the ‘misconception’ that "ministers of Europe do not engage in corruption but those in Turkey do."

A corruption inquiry that began in December caused political controversy in Ankara when it targeted key cabinet ministers and head of Turkey’s state-owned lender.

The recently-enforced judicial reform aims to restructure the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, Turkey’s top judicial body. The law transfers some of the Board’s powers to its chairman, Turkey’s justice minister.

Cavusoglu defended the restriction of access to social media site Twitter and video sharing website YouTube, saying the block does not target the freedom of expression.

Turkey's official telecommunications board TIB blocked access to Twitter on 17 March, after a court issued an order demanding the website remove tweets containing certain links.

It was reopened last week after almost a fortnight. YouTube, which was banned on similar grounds, remains inaccessible.

After his remarks in the Joint Parliamentary Committee, Cavusoglu met with the European Union enlargement chief, Stefan Fule.

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