Turkey entry talks to top EU ministers' agenda

30th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

30 August 2005, BRUSSELS - European Union foreign ministers meet in Wales this week for informal talks on the planned start of membership negotiations with Turkey in early October and the bloc's failed attempts at nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

30 August 2005

BRUSSELS - European Union foreign ministers meet in Wales this week for informal talks on the planned start of membership negotiations with Turkey in early October and the bloc's failed attempts at nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

Croatia's demands for an early start to E.U. entry talks are also on the agenda of the foreign ministers' meeting on September 1 and 2.

Britain, as current E.U. chairman, is hoping ministers will give the thumbs up to opening membership talks with Turkey as scheduled on October 3.

But calls for a delay in opening negotiations have come in recent weeks from France and Austria, with Germany's conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel - widely expected to become the country's first woman chancellor after the September 18 polls - insisting that Ankara should be offered a 'privileged partnership' instead of full entry.

The European Commission has successfully shot down most of the demands by repeatedly insisting that Ankara has fulfilled all legal requirements for the start of negotiations.

A Commission spokeswoman insisted this week that a French call for Turkey to recognise Cyprus before October 3 was not legally binding on Ankara.

Turkey's decision earlier this summer to extend its E.U. customs union agreement to all new member states, including Cyprus, meant that Ankara had met all E.U. pre-conditions for opening negotiations, the spokeswoman said.

The Commission has also said that the upcoming talks will be about Turkish accession to the E.U., not a watered down special partnership.

These points are expected to be reiterated by E.U. backers of Turkish membership at the talks in Wales. Diplomats said, however, that the E.U. would also come up with a response to a unilateral Turkish statement which says extension of the customs union agreement to Cyprus does not imply Ankara's recognition of Nicosia.

Ministers will discuss ties with Iran following a summer of increasing nuclear tensions with Teheran.

Germany, France and Britain - the so-called E.U. Three which have been trying to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions - have warned that Iran's decision to resume nuclear activities in Isfahan is in breach of a November 2004 pact with the E.U.

Diplomats say the E.U. will wait for a report on Iran by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in early September before studying further options, including a possible referral of Teheran to the United Nations Security Council.

E.U. ministers are also expected to hear a direct appeal by Croatian Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic for the early start of membership talks with her country.

Speaking to the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, Grabar-Kitarovic said Croatia was putting a great deal of effort into demonstrating full cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

She also pointed to efforts to undertake a thorough reform of Croatia's police and intelligence services.

E.U. governments delayed the planned March opening of membership negotiations with Croatia over the government's failure to locate and extradite the fugitive general and war crimes suspect Ante Gotovina.

Austria and Hungary are insisting that entry talks with Croatia must start before the E.U. opens negotiations with Turkey.

Diplomats said the informal E.U. meeting will also focus on the situation in the Middle East following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza as well as relations with Russia.

DPA

Subject: German news

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