Expatica news

Dutch MPs back Turkey’s EU entry talks

15 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — A majority in the Dutch Parliament will back European leaders if they decide, as expected, at an EU summit starting in Brussels on Thursday, to start accession talks with Turkey.

The Christian Democrat (CDA) — which was previously very critical of Turkey’s candidacy — will also back a pro-EU entry decision. The CDA has demanded that Ankara adopt seven more reform laws, end intimidation of Christians and stamp out torture in police cells and jails.

But the CDA is satisfied that Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Foreign Minister Ben Bot will “passionately” push forward the CDA conditions at the EU summit this week, news service NOS reported on Wednesday.

The Liberal Party (VVD), the CDA’s coalition government partner, is also in favour of opening accession talks with Turkey next year. Main opposition party Labour (PvdA) has backed full membership for Turkey, and only the populist LPF and the Socialist Party are opposed to initiating talks.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Balkenende — the current EU President — expects that European leaders will give Turkey the green light. The accession talks are expected to start in autumn next year.

Balkenende has made whirlwind visits to Berlin, Paris and Vienna recently to prepare for the crucial EU summit. France and Austria are the nations most opposed, but also expect approval to start talks to be given this week.

Despite a few contentioius matters remaining, the Dutch leader said Turkey had come a long way in meeting EU demands. But Balkenende also said starting accession does not guarantee Turkey’s eventual membership of the EU.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news