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Turkey: Chapter 33 on EU Accession Opened

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Chapter 33 covers Turkey's economic and financial provisions

A new chapter on budget policy was opened on Turkey’s accession into the EU on Thursday following soured relations after the bloc requested the candidate country to change terrorism laws in exchange for visa-free travel for Turks.

Chapter 33, which covers economic and financial provisions, was opened at news conference in Brussels on Thursday with the participation of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, EU minister and Chief Negotiator Omer Celik and Finance Minister Naci Agbal.

Opening of chapter 33 shows the enlargement process with Turkey is "moving forward," European Commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said on his Twitter account on Thursday.

Turkey: Chapter 33 on EU accession opened
Chapter 33 is the second chapter opened in the last seven months, after the chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy was opened in Luxembourg on Dec. 14, 2015. EU launched accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3, 2005.

Since then, 16 out of 35 chapters have been opened, one of which has been provisionally closed.

Cavusoglu said Turkey-EU relations "were passing through a historic process".

"Within four months, we held four EU-Turkey summits," he said, referring to a refugee deal between Turkey and the EU signed on March 18.

Cavusoglu said cooperation with the EU was extended in many fields and the refugee flow in Aegean Sea "was taken under control".

"We succeeded in stopping deaths and the human traffic," he said.

The EU-Turkey refugee deal aims to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly three million Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the condition that Ankara meets 72 requirements set by the EU.

Although Turkey fulfilled most of the criteria last month, differences between Brussels and Ankara on anti-terror legislation have forestalled the visa-liberalization deal.

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