Germany to back EU talks with Turkey: source
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is to drop the opposition it raised in June to opening a new chapter of talks with European Union membership candidate Turkey after its crackdown on a wave of anti-government protests earlier this year, a source said.
The European Commission recommended breathing new life into Ankara's bid in its annual progress report on aspiring members published last week, although it also said Turkish police used excessive force to quell the unrest.
EU governments are to consider the Commission's report at a meeting on October 22 and debate whether to start talks on a new policy area or chapter. A source close to the German government said Berlin would drop its opposition.
EU sources have said they could decide to launch the new round of talks with Turkey in early November.
Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying, but a series of political obstacles, notably over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.
EU governments postponed plans to open the talks on regional policy in June, the first new policy area to be opened in three years, as a rebuke for Turkey's handling of the protests.
Protests against the government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan swept Turkish cities after police used teargas and water cannon to disperse a sit-in against the redevelopment of an Istanbul park. Six people died and more than 8,000 were hurt in two weeks of clashes in June.
In a response to the Commission's report, Turkey's EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis said: "It's indisputable that Turkey is now closer than ever to European Union standards in terms of democracy, human rights and economic development."
He rejected criticism of how the government handled the protests.