Turkey's minister to the EU hopes 2014 will see progression in Turkey's accession to the EU.
ANKARA - Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's EU minister, has asked for 'sincerity' and 'realism' from the EU in regards to the opening of new chapters for Turkey's accession to the 28-member bloc.
The chapters form the basis of accession negotiations for each country to the EU. They focus areas which require reforms in order to meet the accession conditions.
"Preventing the opening of Chapters 23 and 24 on "judiciary and fundamental rights" and "justice, freedom and security" respectively for which Turkey has been criticized is not a realistic and sincere approach," Cavusoglu said at the EU-Turkey town twinning conference held in Ankara Monday.
Cavusoglu said the EU-Turkey Town Twinning Project was a cultural activity and would help overcome prejudices in the EU, adding that "today, one of the biggest problems of the EU is racism and xenophobia."
"35 towns from 18 EU countries are here today with representatives from 20 provinces in Turkey to discuss what kind of projects they could be conducting together," Cavusoglu continued.
Bela Szombati, acting head of the delegation of the EU to Turkey, said the 2 million euro project would lay the ground for cultural and professional exchanges for the establishment of long term partnerships.
"It will not only promote cooperation between towns and communities as a driving force for economic growth, but also eliminate prejudices among different societies," he said.
The Town Twinning Program aims to contribute to the establishment of partnerships between Turkish provinces and EU member states’ local authorities for the exchanging of experience in reference to the implementation of the EU criteria.
Turkey began negotiations with the EU in 2005. It must comply with all 35 chapters to become a member. So far, only 14 negotiating chapters have been opened while 16 remain blocked due in part to the ongoing dispute over Cyprus.
The island has been divided between Greece and Turkey since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north.
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