Turkey’s EU talks should open as planned: Fischer
1 September 2005
NEWPORT, WALES – Talks on Turkish membership of the European Union must open as scheduled on October 3, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Thursday.
Fischer, attending an informal meeting of the 25 E.U. foreign ministers in Newport in South Wales, told reporters it was very important to go ahead with the membership negotiations with Turkey.
“I expect the talks to start on time,” Fischer said, adding that it was essential to build “a rational and reliable partnership with Turkey”.
Fischer said he expected relations with Ankara to develop on the basis of previous commitments.
The two-day informal ministerial meeting had prior to opening on Thursday been expected to focus on last-minute difficulties over the planned start of accession talks with Turkey.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw – hosting the encounter being held amid tight security at the luxurious Celtic Manor golf resort – also however wants ministers to talk about Iran’s possible referral to the United Nations Security Council following the resumption of nuclear activities at the Isfahan plant.
With Turkey’s entry talks scheduled to start in a matter of weeks, E.U. ministers are expected to step up pressure for a normalisation of Ankara’s relations with Cyprus, one of 10 countries which joined the E.U. last year.
Backers of Turkey’s long-standing bid to join the 25-nation bloc insist the country has met all legal requirements for opening membership negotiations as planned.
In addition to introducing a package of legal reforms, Turkey has finally agreed to extend its customs union pact with the E.U. to cover all new Union members, including Cyprus.
But in a move which has irked France, Cyprus and others, Ankara has also made clear in a unilateral statement that this does not mean diplomatic recognition of the Greek Cypriot government.
E.U. diplomats say ministers will use the Newport meeting to hammer out a counter-declaration, stressing that Ankara must rapidly normalise ties with Cyprus and grant Cypriot ships access to Turkish ports under the customs union deal.
Cyprus is also demanding that Turkey set a timetable for recognition of the Nicosia government.
Germany’s conservative opposition leader Angela Merkel – widely expected to become Germany’s first woman chancellor following the September 18 polls, has further upped the ante by insisting Turkey must be offered a ‘privileged partnership,’ not full membership.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul – who will attend the E.U. talks on Friday – has called such demands “illegitimate and immoral”.
Foreign ministers will also decide whether to support efforts to call Iran to the U.N. Security Council to face possible sanctions after resuming its nuclear activities.
“We should take stock on Iran and discuss how we might best pursue the nuclear file over the coming weeks,” Straw said in a letter to his E.U. colleagues ahead of the Newport meeting.
Austria and Hungary, meanwhile, are pushing for an early opening of membership negotiations with Croatia.
The negotiations scheduled to start in March were delayed by E.U. governments which say Zagreb must first demonstrate closer cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Subject: German news