Skip to comments.EU/Turkey politics: Turkey talks
Posted on 09/27/2005 2:20:12 PM PDT by Alex Marko
The EU is due to begin historic membership negotiations with Turkey on October 3rd, in what will be the biggest test of its external policy to date. Turkeys largeand growingpopulation and the fact that it is a relatively poor country mean this would be an enlargement of the Union like no other. In view of its geographical location and predominantly Muslim orientation, many Europeans question whether there is a place for Turkey in the EU at all. Even as the start date approaches, last minute jitters over Turkey's refusal to recognise Cyprus and the fact that some EU member states still want to offer something less than full membership threaten to sour the moment.
For Turkey, opening accession negotiations with the EU would mark the end of a journey the country first embarked upon when it applied for membership of the then European Economic Community in 1959. Along the way the two sides have signed an association agreement (in 1963) and a customs union (in 1995), and the EU accepted Turkey as an official candidate in 1999. Turkeys government has in recent years taken great strides to bring Turkey into line with the Copenhagen criteria of democratic norms, enacting a number of important legal and constitutional reforms, including the abolition of the death penalty, greater freedom of speech and communication, and limited cultural rights for the Kurdish minority.
The end of the beginning
As a result, when EU leaders gathered for their European Council summit last December they finally agreed to set a date for the start of accession talksOctober 3rd 2005providing Turkey met two final conditions. The first of these was the introduction of new Criminal Code and Criminal Procedures Law, which was passed by the Turkish parliament in May. Although the law was generally well received, the EU did point out a number of shortcomings that needed to be tackled, and in practice the Unions attitude will depend on how the courts and public prosecutors interpret the more controversial clauses.
The second condition was addressed in late June, when the Turkish government signed an additional protocol to its customs union agreement with the EU, extending the customs union to the ten new member states that entered the EU on May 1st 2004. However, Turkey created some uncertainty by adding to this a declaration stating that signing the protocol did not amount to any form of recognition of the (Greek Cypriot) Republic of Cyprus, whose claim to sovereignty over the whole of the island Turkey rejects. Although the EU's conditions never included the prior recognition by Turkey of the Greek Cypriot government, Turkeys declaration sent the EU into a diplomatic frenzy. Frances prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, said that it was inconceivable that Turkey could begin negotiations without recognising Cyprus.
After several weeks of talks, in late September EU member states finally agreed on a counter-declaration, which stated that Turkey must recognise Cyprus before it becomes a member. It also demanded the full application of the customs union protocol to the 25 memberscurrently Turkey prevents Cypriot boats and planes from having access to its ports and airports. The statement prompted a negative reaction in Turkey, which insists that the question of recognition can be addressed only in the context of a wider settlement to the island's division. Precisely when the Turkish parliament will ratify the protocol remains to be seen, but the EU has pledged to monitor the situation closely and evaluate full implementation sometime during 2006. For the moment, the counter-declaration appears to have satisfied the concerns of Cyprus and Greece.
That leaves just one last hurdle to be cleared before accession talks can begin: EU leaders must endorse a negotiating framework outlining the aim and scope of the talks. A draft of the framework was issued by the Commission in June, stating that the objective of the talks is, simply, the accession of Turkey. The problem with this is that there are strong forces in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Austria that reject Turkish accession in principle, preferring to offer Turkey a "privileged partnership" (although what this would actually amount to, they have not as yet made clear). Thus the draft also stresses that the talks are an open-ended process the result of which cannot be guaranteed in advance. While this formulation reportedly satisfied 24 member states, as of late September Austria (where 80% of voters oppose Turkish entry) was holding out for an explicit reference to an alternative to full membership.
That would be a red rag to a bull for Turkey, which insists that starting the negotiations with anything but full membership as the goal would be a demonstration of bad faith on the EUs parta view probably shared by the UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Scandinavian states, all of which support the idea of Turkey's eventual membership, or at least do not oppose it. Moreover, for those that differ there is another way out. Earlier this year the French parliament passed an amendment to Frances constitution making it compulsory to hold a referendum before Turkish accession could be accepted. At this point, other countries may also refuse to ratify an accession treaty. Since this is unlikely to occur before about 2013 at the earliest, it should be possible to persuade Austria to postpone the question of Turkeys eventual status until then and proceed with the accession talks in the meantime.
A long road ahead
So, while a delay cannot be ruled out, on balance it appears that the talks will get underway on schedule. Nonetheless, the last-minute haggling is a reminder of the difficulties facing the two sides in the years ahead, when opening the talks may come to be seen as the easy part. Turkey will be successively required to adopt 30 or more chapters of EU legislation, covering everything from foreign policy to environmental protection and social policy. In the early and middle years of the process, the term negotiations is a misnomer, since Turkey will generally be required to implement EU legislation without amendment. This is likely to involve some difficult reforms, and it seems reasonable to expect that opposition to EU membership within Turkey will increase.
There will also be continuing doubts on the EU side. Germanys next government looks likely to be a grand coalition led by the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel, who has been one of the chief proponents of a privileged partnership. In France, the party of the president, Jacques Chirac, the Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP), also opposes Turkish accession in principle. Mr Chirac himself has so far gone along with his EU partners in accepting the proposal to start accession talks, but a critical point may well be reached in 2007 if, as is expected, the UMP chairman, Nicholas Sarkozy, is the party's candidate in France's presidential election. If he wins, Mr Sarkozy may well seek to delay the process, although he would find it hard to stop entirely unless there is a complete reversal in the policies of other member states or Turkey reverses recent human-rights reforms.
SOURCE: ViewsWire Europe
Major part of Turkey and Cyprus are in Asia, so what's this part of Eu??? Stooopid, uneducated, two language Euuweeenies!!!
from nearly a year ago:
Turkey warns of terror wave if EU membership is rejected
EU Observer | Dec 13 2004 | Lisbeth Kirk
Posted on 12/14/2004 10:10:42 PM PST by SunkenCiv
In view of its geographical location and predominantly Muslim orientation, many Europeans question whether there is a place for Turkey in the EU at all.
south cyprus is as asain as turkey ..
I assume you meant "Asian" not "asain"..some tribe in the boondocks.
South Cyprus does not exist. It is the Republic of Cyprus and the northern part is occupied by Muslim Turks after they invaded and looted and killed the original inhabitants there.
You have obviously never been there, because if you had you would know that "southern Cyprus" is as European as any other European Mediterranean nation.
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