General Affairs Council

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"It is in the firm interest of the EU to step up engagement with Turkey," the EU's Enlargement Commission has insisted.

Speaking at a meeting of the General Affairs Council on 25 June 2013, Stefan Füle said he welcomed a decision to open talks between the EU and Turkey on regional policies, a further step towards EU membership.

Out of 35 policy areas - or "chapters" - to be negotiated, only 13 have been opened since Turkey's negotiations with the EU began in 2005, and only one has been closed.

Mr Füle said the latest chapter would provide support to Turkey in dealing with the consequences of the Syria refugee crisis.

In reference to the recent violence in Turkey, he added "I believe this is also a clear response to many of those who have been demonstrating peacefully in recent weeks as it should strengthen our efforts to engage with Turkey and re-establish the relevance of the EU-related reforms as the benchmark for Turkey."

Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said that "while we have been disturbed by the reaction to the recent peaceful protests in Turkey", opening new chapters would "allow the EU to continue contributing to shaping the direction of future reform in Turkey".

The General Affairs Council brings together EU ministers of EU government, and deals with topics that affect more than one EU policy, such as enlargement or long-term budgetary planning.

It also coordinates planning for forthcoming European Council meetings, the next of which takes place on 27 and 28 June in Brussels.

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