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MEPs back start of Turkey talks


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#1    Talon

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Posted 15 December 2004 - 04:20 PM

MEPs back start of Turkey talks
The European Parliament has called on European Union leaders to open entry talks with Turkey "without undue delay" when they meet in Brussels this week.
A non-binding resolution supporting the start of accession negotiations was backed by 407 MEPs, with 262 against.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who will host the summit, says he wants a unanimous decision from the leaders of the 25 member states.

Turkey has said it is not prepared to join the EU "at any price".


Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told the Turkish Milliyet daily that there were four "red lines" that Turkey would not cross:


Negotiations must have Turkey's complete membership as the final aim
Turkey must not be forced to extend diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Cyprus
The decision to start talks must not be conditional on subsequent decisions by EU leaders
There should be no special conditions imposed permanently on Turkey
Mr Balkenende, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, has said he expects leaders to vote in favour of opening talks.


"On the basis of the contacts that I've had, a 'yes' seems likely to come, but we need a unanimous decision," he told the Dutch parliament on Wednesday.

Mixed support

The resolution also called for close monitoring of Turkey's progress in improving human rights, religious freedom and women's rights. It said talks should be suspended at any time if Ankara wavers in these areas.

Amendments suggesting Turkey should be offered a special partnership instead of full membership, or that it should be rejected altogether, were defeated.


Before the vote in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told MEPs it was "time for the European Council to honour its commitment to Turkey".
"A clear date should be indicated," he said.

"We accept that the accession process is open-ended and its outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand."

Earlier, he told French television: "This doesn't yet mean membership for Turkey, it will take time naturally, but I think we will now be able to start the process of negotiations with Turkey which has made huge efforts to come and join the European Union."

The BBC's Chris Morris says the number of votes against the motion reflects considerable misgivings in parts of Europe about starting membership talks with such a large, poor and overwhelmingly Muslim country.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4097447.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#2    Talon

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 12:09 AM

Chirac warns Turkey of tough test
French President Jacques Chirac has said that Turkey could join the European Union - if it complies in full with entry requirements.
He spoke after the European Parliament voted to approve the start of accession talks when EU leaders meet Turkish counterparts in Brussels this week.

Mr Chirac warned that any of the EU's 25 members could veto Turkish entry and France reserved "the last word".

However, he stressed that the EU would benefit from having Turkey aboard.

"Does Europe, and particularly France, have an interest in Turkey joining it?" he asked in a live interview on French TV.

"My answer is... 'Yes, if Turkey totally meets the conditions we impose on any candidate for our union'."

'Meaningful'

In their non-binding vote, passed by 407 votes to 262, MEPs called on EU leaders to open entry talks with Turkey "without undue delay".


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the vote as "very meaningful" but warned that his country would walk away if confronted by any "unacceptable conditions".

Mr Chirac suggested that partial membership for Turkey, as suggested by some of his own supporters in France, was not an option.

"To ask a country like Turkey, a great country with a rich and long history, to make a considerable effort to reach a risky or partial result is not reasonable," he said.

If Ankara met all its accession obligations, he continued, it should not be turned away at the last moment.

"We will take a very heavy responsibility for history if, faced with a people who tell us 'We have adopted all your values, all your rules, all your objectives' ,we tell them, 'Eh, no thanks'," the French leader said.

'Red lines'

The MEPs' resolution also called for close monitoring of Turkey's progress in improving human rights, religious freedom and women's rights and said talks should be suspended at any time if Ankara wavers in these areas.

Amendments suggesting Turkey should be offered a special partnership instead of full membership, or that it should be rejected altogether, were defeated.

The BBC's Chris Morris says the number of votes against the motion reflects considerable misgivings in parts of Europe about starting membership talks with such a large, poor and overwhelmingly Muslim country.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul set out four "red lines" his country would not cross:


Negotiations must have Turkey's complete membership as the final aim

Turkey must not be forced to extend diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Cyprus

The decision to start talks must not be conditional on subsequent decisions by EU leaders

There should be no special conditions imposed permanently on Turkey.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4100031.stm



"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#3    Talon

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 03:26 PM

Turkey urged to recognise Cyprus
Turkey should "go the extra mile" and recognise Cyprus, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said ahead of a key EU summit.
EU leaders are expected to approve the opening of accession talks with Turkey at the two-day meeting in Brussels.

Mr Barroso spoke of a need for Turkey to win Europeans' "hearts and minds".

But Turkey, which occupies northern Cyprus, has said it will not bow to demands to recognise the country, calling the issue a "red line".

The European Commission president stressed his enthusiasm for Turkey's bid to join the 25-strong European Union.

"The challenge for Turkey is to win the hearts and minds of those European citizens who are open to, but not yet fully convinced of, Turkey's European destiny," he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also in Brussels, gave a cautious welcome to signals that EU leaders are broadly behind the Turkish bid.

Sceptical public

In an interview published in a Turkish newspaper on Thursday, Mr Erdogan promised to scrutinise "every word" of the EU leaders' decisions.

His foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, has warned that imposing strict preconditions on talks would amount to a "red line" Turkey would not cross.

On Wednesday evening French President Jacques Chirac spoke out in favour of Turkish membership in a live interview on French TV.

Chirac faces internal French opposition to Turkish membership  
Mr Chirac said that Turkey should be able to join the EU as long as it meets all the entry requirements laid down.

He stressed that any of the EU's 25 members could veto Turkish entry and that France reserved "the last word".

A poll by the Le Figaro newspaper this week suggested that two-thirds of French people were against Turkey joining the EU.

The EU summit on Thursday and Friday will decide whether, when and under what conditions to give Turkey a start date for membership negotiations.

The governments of the UK and Germany are strongly in favour, but others, such as Austria, are opposed.


Host of issues

"Special attention should be given to the sensitive areas so we can win the support of all member states for the talks to begin and then to be successful," Mr Barroso said, speaking a day after the European parliament voted strongly in favour of opening membership talks with Turkey.

He steered clear of making Turkish recognition of Cyprus a precondition for talks, noting only that EU members are expected to recognise all other states at the time of accession.
Negotiations are expected to be protracted - possibly lasting up to 15 years.

The BBC's Chris Morris, in Brussels, says Cyprus is one of a host of issues Turkey is going to have to deal with.

Among EU members' concerns are Turkey's record on human rights, religious freedoms and women's rights.

There also concerns over the impact on EU labour markets of Turkey's 71 million-strong population, which is predicted to rise to over 80 million by 2015 and to overtake Germany's population soon after.

If Turkey's application is successful, the EU's frontier would extend deep into the Middle East.

It could become the first EU member with a majority Muslim population.

Speaking on Thursday in Germany's parliament, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Europe was essentially debating the "modernisation" of the Turkish state.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4100971.stm





"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#4    Talon

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Posted 16 December 2004 - 03:46 PM

Athens and Ankara strengthen ties
As European leaders discuss whether to start entry talks with Ankara, the BBC's Europe correspondent, Chris Morris, looks at Turkey's relationship with its closest European neighbour - Greece.

How times have changed.

Back in 1996, Greece and Turkey came to the brink of war in a dispute over a pair of uninhabited rocky outcrops in the Aegean Sea. Now Greece is an enthusiastic supporter of Turkey's membership of the European Union.


How times have changed.
Back in 1999, Turkey's most wanted man - the Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan - was found hiding in the Greek embassy compound in Kenya. This year, the Greek Prime Minister, Costas Karamanlis, was the guest of honour at the wedding in Istanbul of the daughter of his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Things are not perfect. Turkey and Greece still have very real differences about Cyprus and about territorial disputes in the Aegean. But on both sides, strategic decisions have been taken that they should make an effort to get along.

The days when a Greek foreign minister described the Turks as "murderers, rapists and thieves" seem to have gone for good.

Earthquake diplomacy

How did it happen? Well, there had been pressure for years from within Nato and the EU for the two countries to resolve their differences in a more mature fashion.

And when Turkey and Greece were hit by devastating earthquakes in quick succession in the second half of 1999, politicians were quick to send rescue teams, clothing and food supplies.

"Earthquake diplomacy" was born and ordinary people on both sides suddenly realised how much they had in common.
It set the mood for practical political co-operation on issues like tourism and environmental protection and over the last few years relations in the eastern Mediterranean have moved onto a more secure footing.

Greece in particular decided that encouraging Turkish membership of the European Union was in its interests. Better, the politicians reasoned, than an angry Turkey shut out of the European process and looking for someone to blame.

They have not convinced everyone, though. An opinion poll released in Greece this week showed ordinary people divided pretty evenly over whether Turkey should eventually be allowed into the EU.

There was only a narrow majority in favour. On both sides of the Aegean, residual nationalist suspicions linger on.

Cyprus issue

But if Turkey still has a real Greek "enemy" in the EU then he does not live in Athens. The Greek Cypriot President, Tassos Papadopoulos, is a wily hardliner who now sits at Europe's top table.


Since the enlargement of the EU on 1 May, he holds a long-term veto over Turkey's EU application, and he will continue to apply pressure in various forms over the next few years.
When the two sides of Cyprus voted on a United Nations peace plan earlier this year it was the Turkish Cypriots, with the encouragement of Mr Erdogan's government in Ankara, who said yes. The Greek Cypriots, influenced by Mr Papadopoulos's tearful pleas on television, rejected the plan overwhelmingly.

Ironically, it meant the Turkish Cypriots were kept out of the EU, and away from the benefits it would bring. Any move to ease the embargo on the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state has been blocked by Mr Papadopoulos and his diplomats.

So there are still plenty of obstacles for the Turks to overcome in their efforts to enter the EU. Cyprus, and disputes in the Aegean, will have to be sorted out sooner or later.

It does not have to happen immediately, but both issues will continue to cast a shadow as long as they remain unresolved. Compromise will not be easy, but with better relations between Ankara and Athens, at least it no longer looks impossible.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4100871.stm



"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#5    Talon

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 02:15 AM

Deal struck over Turkey-EU talks
The EU and Turkey have struck a deal over an EU demand that Turkey recognise Cyprus before membership talks begin.
The solution they found after two days of tough and at times heated talks was for Turkey to tacitly acknowledge the Cyprus government for the first time.

The deal clears the way for Turkey - large, poor and overwhelmingly Muslim - to start entry talks in October 2005.

But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted signing the protocol was not a formal recognition of Cyprus.


"We did not obtain all that we wanted 100%", he told a news conference, "but we can say that it was a success."

EU leaders confirmed that Turkey had completed the last of the essential changes in its laws needed to meet the EU's democratic conditions for opening talks.

The astonishing reforms of the past few years, which swept away much of the repressive state apparatus of the past, will be entrenched by both the negotiation process and eventual membership, says the BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul.

New beginning


Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Ankara had "accepted the hand we offered them".

He said Turkey had worked hard to meet the criteria set out by the EU and that future negotiation would help to resolve many disputes.


Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, said: "Today is also a new beginning for Europe and for Turkey... This is not the end of the process. This is the beginning."
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deal showed there was no fundamental clash of civilisations between Christians and Muslims.

"On the contrary, if [Turkey] fulfils the same principles of human rights, then Muslim and Christian can work together."

The US welcomed the breakthrough. Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "A Turkey that is firmly anchored in Europe and sharing European values will be a positive force for prosperity and democracy."

However, French President Jacques Chirac stressed that Turkey's membership of the EU was still not guaranteed, and promised the issue would eventually be put to a referendum in France.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who has argued against letting Turkey into the EU, said his country would also hold a referendum.

Under the agreement, Turkey must issue a written statement promising to sign an accord extending its customs union to the 10 new EU members, including Cyprus.

This must be done before the proposed start date for talks of 3 October next year, EU diplomats said.

It will mean granting effective recognition to the Greek Cypriot government, but gives Turkey more time to sell the idea to its people.

Croatia talks

The internationally recognised southern part of Cyprus is an EU member, but Turkey, which occupies northern Cyprus, had previously insisted it would not bow to demands to recognise the country, calling the issue a "red line".

The EU has said it could take up to 15 years before Turkey is able to join, and entry cannot be guaranteed.
The EU has also announced that it will start accession talks with Croatia in April 2005.

However, talks will begin only if the country co-operates fully with the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Romania and Bulgaria were invited to sign entry treaties in April, ahead of their planned entry in January 2007.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4103931.stm





"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#6    Talon

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 03:06 AM

Blair hails Turkey-EU talks deal
Tony Blair has hailed a deal bringing Turkey a step closer to EU membership as important for the world's future "peace and prosperity".
Mr Blair has been a leading advocate of Turkish membership despite controversy surrounding the idea.

Leaving a Brussels summit Mr Blair said "the fact Turkey is a Muslim country does not mean it should be barred".

The deal to open formal talks with Ankara came despite an EU demand for Turkey to recognise Cyprus.

It was agreed the issue can be tackled at a later date but Turkish premier Recep Erdogan had to accept negotiations did not guarantee his country full EU membership.

'Future peace'

If it joins, Turkey may have to accept restrictions to limit migration by its citizens.

Mr Blair said having Turkey in the EU was of "importance to the future peace and prosperity of my country, Britain, and the wider world".

"We are stating a fundamental principle that the fact Turkey is a Muslim country does not mean it should be barred from Europe.

"On the contrary, if it fulfils the same principles of human rights, then Muslim and Christian can work together."

Under the agreement, Turkey must issue a written statement promising to sign an accord effectively recognising the Greek Cypriot government, but gives Turkey more time to sell the idea to its people.

'No guarantee'

The internationally recognised southern part of Cyprus is an EU member, but Turkey, which occupies northern Cyprus, had previously insisted it would not bow to demands to recognise the country, calling the issue a "red line".

It could take up to 15 years before Turkey is able to join, and entry cannot be guaranteed.

The EU has also announced that it will start accession talks with Croatia in April 2005.

However, talks will begin only if the country co-operates fully with the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_p...ics/4105731.stm



"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#7    Talon

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Posted 18 December 2004 - 12:30 PM

Historic Turkey-EU deal welcomed
The European Union's decision to begin entry talks with Turkey has received a widespread welcome.
But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will face tough questions at home about what he has signed up to.

The deal came after Ankara agreed it would tacitly acknowledge the Cyprus government - a key EU demand for talks to begin.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Turkey within the EU would be "a positive force for democracy".

The deal was struck after two days of tough and at times heated talks in Brussels.

Mr Erdogan insisted the protocol was not a formal recognition of Cyprus.

"We did not obtain all that we wanted 100%", he told a news conference, "but we can say that it was a success."

'High price'

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul says many Turks are concerned that agreeing to any form of recognition for the Cypriot Greek government means selling out the Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island.

Mr Erdogan has long been accused of being soft on Cyprus by his political opponents. They will say he paid too high a price for membership talks, our correspondent adds.


EU leaders confirmed on Friday that Turkey - large, poor and overwhelmingly Muslim - had completed the last of the essential changes in its laws needed to meet the EU's democratic conditions for opening talks.

Entry talks are now pencilled in for 3 October 2005.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Ankara had "accepted the hand we offered them".

Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, said: "Today is also a new beginning for Europe and for Turkey... This is not the end of the process. This is the beginning."

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deal showed there was no fundamental clash of civilisations between Christians and Muslims.

"On the contrary, if [Turkey] fulfils the same principles of human rights, then Muslim and Christian can work together."

The US welcomed the breakthrough. Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "A Turkey that is firmly anchored in Europe and sharing European values will be a positive force for prosperity and democracy."

Long road

However, French President Jacques Chirac stressed that Turkey's membership of the EU was still not guaranteed, and promised the issue would eventually be put to a referendum in France.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, who has argued against letting Turkey into the EU, said his country would also hold a referendum.

Under the agreement, Turkey must issue a written statement promising to sign an accord extending its customs union to the 10 new EU members, including Cyprus.
This must be done before the proposed October start date for talks next year, EU diplomats said.

It will mean granting effective recognition to the Greek Cypriot government, but gives Turkey more time to sell the idea to its people.

The internationally recognised southern part of Cyprus is an EU member, but Turkey, which occupies northern Cyprus, had previously insisted it would not bow to demands to recognise the country, calling the issue a "red line".

The EU has said it could take up to 15 years before Turkey is able to join, and entry cannot be guaranteed.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/4106801.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato




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