Turkey has the capacity to open and close all EU chapters within six months if principled negotiations are carried out, said the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) spokesperson on Oct. 6.
“If a principled negotiation process is carried out, I claim that Turkey has the capacity and close all the chapters within six months. If that does not happen, Turkey would go its own way,” said Ömer Çelik, speaking to reporters following the AKP’s consultation meeting in the capital Ankara.
“Not opening the chapters is a sign of lack of self-confidence,” he said.
Çelik recalled President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s earlier statement that the country could also hold a referendum over its EU bid.
“He [Erdoğan] says, ‘Let us ask this to the 81 million people [living in Turkey]. This after all is an emphasis on the fact that the final decision regarding the country’s important issues belongs to the nation,” Çelik said.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 while accession talks began in 2005.
To gain the membership, Turkey must successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards. As of May 2016, a total of 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded.
In December 2016, the bloc said no new chapters would be opened.
However, Ankara has recently launched initiatives to restart the EU membership negotiation process.