"These 50 years are ... an occasion to embrace the future," Karin Kortmann, parliamentary state secretary of the German Economic Cooperation and Development Ministry, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. Kortmann earlier addressed a meeting in Ankara attended by officials from the Environment Ministry, State Planning Organization and Treasury.
Turkey is working to fulfill the benchmarks to open more chapters during Sweden’s term as EU president. Ankara opened only the taxation chapter while the Czech Republic, Sweden’s predecessor, was at the helm of the bloc for six months.
"The federal German government is expending significant efforts for Turkey to conclude its accession negotiations and join the EU as soon as possible," Kortmann told the Daily News.
In his address, Sedat Kadıoğlu, deputy undersecretary of the Environment Ministry, sought German support for the start of Turkey-EU talks on environment, a challenging chapter.
"We expect to receive Germany’s support. The work on relevant directives for compliance with the EU criteria is going on upon instructions from the prime minister. I am sure the environment chapter will open by the end of this year," he said.
Turkey and the EU formally began accession negotiations in October 2005, but the talks have slowed for a number of reasons, including Ankara’s refusal to open its sea and airports to traffic from EU member Greek Cyprus as well as firm opposition from some member states, including France. Ankara has so far opened 11 out of 35 negotiating chapters.
Projects on climate change, renewable energies
There are hundreds of projects under way between Turkey and Germany, Kortmann said. "The projects for the future are lying in the field of climate change and the environment," she said. "We have to look for how we can work more together in multilateral cooperation."
Germany intends to develop vocational training in Turkey, where youth unemployment is on the rise, and is seeking support on renewable energies that would foster cooperation between enterprises, according to Kortmann. She said a gathering was planned this fall in Germany to foster bilateral cooperation with Turkey.
At the meeting, the official said low-interest German loans granted to Turkey focused on improving infrastructure and reducing regional discrepancies.
"Turkey’s western part is a developed industrial region, while the eastern part is less developed. Germany passed through similar difficulties after the fall of the Berlin wall," Kortmann said. "It is important to reduce regional gaps and maintain equal living standards."