Union backs Turkey entry talks in 2005

The Union’s Foreign Ministers have expressed broad support for the proposal to open accession talks with Turkey in 2005 if the country passes a review. Meanwhile, President George Bush said the US will work hard to get Turkey into the EU.

A "very large majority of Member States" support the proposal, according to German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. According to the proposal, the EU would examine Turkey's progress with political and economic reforms in December 2004, and if the assessment was positive, entry negotiations would be opened on 1 July 2005. Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom support an earlier date.

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the plan unacceptable and accused the EU of applying double standards for not giving a clear date. Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said talks should begin "within six months".

In Washington, President Bush promised to "work hard on Turkey's behalf" when he met Erdogan on 10 December. The US sees Turkey as a reliable Muslim ally on the edge of a volatile region that includes Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Parliament adopted a new package of democratic reforms on 10 December aimed at bringing the country into line with EU norms. The package, submitted by the government last week, was expected to strengthen Turkey's negotiating position. Turkey passed the first batch of political reforms in August.

 

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