EU opens doors to Turkey
17 December 2004
BRUSSELS – The 25-nation European Union has agreed to open groundbreaking accession talks with Turkey next year.
But the bloc insisted that talks can only begin 3 October, 2005, if Turkey ends its long-standing diplomatic dispute with Cyprus, which it invaded three decades ago.
Final terms were agreed Friday afternoon after tough negotiations.
Cyprus, whose northern half is controlled by Turkey, joined the EU on May 1 along with nine other countries.
“Cyprus will be sitting at the negotiating table when the EU membership talks begin,” Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at a press conference Thursday before the summit.
“So the question for Turkey is, what kind of message does it send, when you do not recognise all the members sitting at the table of the club you want to join?” he added.
France and Austria have raised Turkish ire over the past few weeks by attempting to dilute the language on accession talks to suggest alternatives to full Turkish membership.
Both governments are faced with significant hostile public opinion towards Turkey’s membership bid.
Speaking to journalists, Barroso said that imposing additional conditions on Turkey’s membership was not an option.
“We are not looking for some kind of half way house, or mid-way deal,” he said. “If we start negotiations it should be with full EU membership in mind.”
Turkey is not expected to join the EU until 2015 at the earliest.
Its path toward eventually joining the Union has already been a long one, beginning with Turkey’s signing of an association agreement back in 1963.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news