Fresh talks planned in Turkey to join EU

To cover the judiciary and fundamental rights

BRUSSELS - EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule is to hold fresh talks in Turkey on its efforts to join the 28-nation bloc, a statement said Sunday, amid continued concerns over Ankara's rights record.
Fule will meet senior officials Monday and Tuesday, including the president and foreign minister, as well as the justice minister and head of Turkey's constitutional court, the European Commission said.
Fule will also take part in a meeting of the working group on Chapter 23 of Turkey's EU membership bid, which covers the judiciary and fundamental rights.
This group deals "with the necessary reforms in these two areas crucial for the accession process of Turkey," it added.
Turkey began formal EU accession talks in 2005 but they made little progress, with Ankara angered by Brussels' insistance on human rights protections and strong reservations in some member states against allowing in such a large Muslim country.
Negotiations resumed late last year following a three-year freeze but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's handling of a graft scandal and mass anti-government protests has raised fresh concerns in the EU.
After a sharp police crackdown earlier this month, the EU warned the government that "any country negotiating EU accession needs to guarantee human rights, including freedom of assembly and association for its citizens."
An EU spokesman said it had not been possible to arrange a meeting between Fule and the prime minister because of scheduling problems.