Dutch difficulty over Turkey's EU accession

6th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government, which currently holds the EU Presidency, was placed in a difficult position on Wednesday when it failed to gain a domestic mandate to plead in December for the opening of European Union accession talks with Turkey.

6 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government, which currently holds the EU Presidency, was placed in a difficult position on Wednesday when it failed to gain a domestic mandate to plead in December for the opening of European Union accession talks with Turkey.

Coalition government party the Christian Democrat CDA has refused to back the cabinet's positive attitude to the start for accession talks. The reversal for the government came despite the European Commission's landmark recommendation on Wednesday that talks should be given the go ahead.

The other two government parties — the Liberal VVD and Democrat D66 — were positive about the EC's report, which said the Islamic nation must show sufficient progress in reforms in the areas of human rights and democracy for accession talks to begin. 

The VVD was pleased with the "stringent, but just" report, but also raised concerns about the free movement of people between Turkey and the EU. The D66 said Turkey's admission will only strengthen the EU.

And Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm — who is filling in for hospitalised Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende — said the EC report was a good basis for the EU's leaders to approach the question of Turkey's entry, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

The 25 EU leaders will make a final decision on whether to open talks in a summit in Brussels on 17 December.

Zalm — who was speaking as the EU President — warned that despite the EC's advice, a decision in favour of accession talks was not certain. But he also said the report was "thorough, balanced [while being] critical here and there".

Main Dutch opposition party Labour PvdA also stressed that Turkey must continue reforms to strengthen human rights and democracy. Leader Wouter Bos said no exceptions should be made for Turkey, but accession criteria should not be more strictly applied than other candidate nations either.

The EC decision was made by a "large consensus" among commissioners, but no vote was taken. The commission did not give a recommended date to start negotiations.

"It is a qualified yes," EC President Romano Prodi said. "It's flanked with a whole series of recommendations for monitoring and verifying what the situation is actually like."

Turkey's possible admission to the EU has proven controversial, due in part to its economic problems and largely Islamic population. But Turkey claims it could form a bridge between Muslim countries and Europe.

Meanwhile, the EC also confirmed on Wednesday that Bulgaria and Romania were on target to join the EU in 2007. Croatia is set to start negotiations next year.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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