1/12/2009

Turkey appoints new chief negotiator for EU accession talks

Hurriyet English - Egemen Bagis, deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has been appointed last Thursday as the new chief negotiator for the country's accession talks with the European Union. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan formerly held the post of chief negotiator for Turkey’s EU negotiations. US-educated Bagis, previously served as a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan between 2002-2007 and has been active in Turkey's foreign affairs. Bagis, who is fluent in English and French, will be also a cabinet member as a state minister. Bagis's appointment precedes a trip by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to Brussels this week. Analysts said the appointment is an indicator of Erdogan’s efforts to show Brussels that Turkey is serious about its EU ambitions. "They are trying to signal that they are going to start taking the EU more seriously and that they want to mollify the view that Turkey has gone cold on the EU" Semih Idiz, a columnist for liberal daily Milliyet, told Reuters. The European Union (EU) presidency welcomed on Friday the appointment of a new chief negotiator. The ambassadress of the Czech Republic, currently holding the rotating presidency of the union, defined Turkey's appointing a new chief negotiator as a positive development.