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Turkey: only full membership

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  • Turkey: only full membership, Belgium
    July 12 2005

    Turkey: only full membership
    Written by Brussels journalist David Ferguson
    Tuesday, 12 July 2005

    "This long awaited decision to start negotiations confirmed the desire of
    both sides to forward our relationship towards full membership. I emphasize
    'full membership' as no document signed between Turkey and the EU nor any
    other EU decision envisages any other option," said Ali Babacan, Turkish
    Chief EU Negotiator.

    "Nor does Turkey's desire to enter into any other relationship that cannot
    be described as full membership," said Babacan. He was responding to growing
    voices in the EU calling for expansion to stop at the gates of Istanbul.
    Right-of-centre politicians, especially from Germany's CDU-CSU party are
    pushing for a 'special relationship' with Ankara that stops far short of
    full membership. They include CDU boss Angela Merkel, who is ever more
    likely to be Germany's future Chancellor.

    "The prospect of Turkish accession has an impact on the future of Europe. It
    is crucial that an institution like the European Parliament recognizes the
    value of Turkey and its future presence in Europe," Babacan said. The
    Turkish Treasury Minister and Chief EU Negotiator was speaking to MEPs in
    Brussels. Babacan argued that Turkey had implemented many of the key
    political and economic reforms as well as changes to ensure greater respect
    for cultural rights.

    "We are fully aware of the deficiencies and the work to be done. But the
    comprehensive nature of political reforms so far is a clear sign of the
    transformation going on in Turkish society," said the 38-year old minister.
    "Reforms range from enhancing basic fundamental rights, furthering cultural
    rights, bringing civilian-military relations to European norms, expanding
    the freedom of the press and gender equality."

    "The recent report by the European Parliament on the status of women in
    Turkey makes a number of significant recommendation. We'll take that into
    account to strengthen gender equality," continued Babacan. "We want cultural
    rights, private local language courses have become operational and public
    television has started to broadcast programmes in various dialects."

    Late last month, the European Commission presented a draft framework for
    accession negotiations with Turkey. Appearing before the European
    Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn
    stressed that the accession negotiation framework was the most rigorous ever
    proposed by the Commission. "Drawing lessons from the previous round of
    enlargement," said Rehn, "the focus will be less on commitments and more on
    practice, less on words and more on deeds."

    The Commission wants negotiations to start with Turkey on 3 October. To do
    that, Turkey still needs to make more progress in the fields of human
    rights, religious and cultural freedom. Turkey must also sign the so-called
    Ankara protocol that signifies recognition of Cyprus. As to Armenia, Turkey
    must maintain "good neighbourly relations" and open its borders. Recognition
    of the events of 1915-1916, that Armenia and many EU states call a genocide,
    is not a precondition for opening accession negotiations.