Turkey is ready to get "married" to the European Union, one of the country's top politicians said, after the 28-nation bloc decided to re-open membership talks with Turkey after a three-year stalemate.
The latest round of negotiations marks a significant step in Turkey's movement towards accession. The process has been a very long one, fraught with difficulties since talks started in 2005 -- 18 years after the country initially applied for membership.
Talks on the next stage, or "chapter" as they are called, started Tuesday at the Accession Conference in Brussels, setting out targets Turkey has to meet in areas such as job creation and quality of life, before any progress can be made on bringing the country into the 28-country economic and political union.
Thirty-five chapters need to be concluded before Turkey can become an EU member, but so far only one has been finished. European and Turkish politicians have hailed it as a giant step however.
(Read more: When will Turkey join the European Union?)
"This is really a turning point in Turkish- EU relations…it is symbolically very important," Egemen Bağış, Turkish minister for EU affairs and chief negotiator, said at a press conference.
"We are not only ready to get engaged (to the EU) but get married."
The EU is Turkey's biggest trading partner and around 71 percent of foreign direct investment in the country comes from the EU. Membership is expected to bring freer movement of goods and increase the money Turkey received through bilateral trade which stood at 123 billion euros in 2012.