Latvia hopeful talks of Turkey's EU bid will continue

'Latvia is among the countries that support Turkish integration in the European Union,' says Latvian ambassador in Turkey

'Latvia is among the countries that support Turkish integration in the European Union,' says Latvian ambassador in Turkey

ANKARA - Latvia is hopeful that during its presidency of the EU, some chapters in Turkey’s EU negotiation process will be opened.   

Speaking to The Anadolu Agency, Latvia's ambassador to Turkey Atis Sjanits said Riga expected that Turkey would move forward in their EU membership bid by opening "at least some chapters in the negotiation process."

"Latvia is among the countries that support Turkish integration in the European Union," Sjanits said.

"We need to have a consensus with the other European countries to open some chapters," said the Latvian ambassador.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987, with accession talks beginning in 2005.

However, negotiations hit a stalemate in 2007 due to Turkey’s position on the Cyprus issue and opposition to its full EU membership by the German and French governments.

To obtain its membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations with the EU in 35 policy chapters, which involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

So far, 14 chapters have been opened, while 17 remain blocked and a further four have yet to be discussed. Only one chapter has been opened in the past three years.

Latvia will take over the rotating EU presidency after Italy in January 2015.

The ambassador also praised Turkey's developments in the last decade.

"Turkey is fiscally healthy and has political stability and easily fulfills the Maastricht criteria with the exception of inflation. This is a big difference from what we saw a decade ago," he said.

He also mentioned that Latvia and Turkey will be celebrating their 90th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2015.

"I bring that up because never ever have relations between our countries been as intense as during the last two years," he said. "During my time in Ankara, we have had three official presidential visits. Recently, we were the first European country to host newly elected Turkish President Erdogan."

Sjanits also talked about providing "visa-free travel" within the EU for Turkish citizens.

"Overall situation is that it can be completed in two or three years,” said the envoy. “I must also mention that there is no threat of illegal immigration by the Turkish citizens."

The European Commission launched a visa liberalization dialogue with Turkey on December 16, 2013, setting out a list divided into five chapters of what Turkey must achieve in order for Turkish citizens to be able to travel without a visa to the EU.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency