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Brussels draws red line in countdown to Turkey talks

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Brussels draws red line in countdown to Turkey talks

Postby RAFAELLA » Sat Sep 03, 2005 11:47 am

02.09.2005 - 09:52 CET | By Mark Beunderman (Updated 18.50 CET) EUOBSERVER / NEWPORT
– The atmosphere between Brussels and Ankara is worsening following fresh rows over Cyprus and free speech, with the commission drawing a "red line" one month before accession talks with Turkey are scheduled to start.

While EU foreign ministers were yesterday (1 September) at a meeting in Wales struggling to draft a counter-declaration to Turkey’s non-recognition of Cyprus, Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul publicly took a defiant stance on the Cyprus issue.

Mr Gul stated to the press that Turkey, as a non–EU member state, does not feel obliged to allow Cypriot planes and ships to enter its territory – something the EU says is against the spirit of the customs agreement that Ankara signed with the enlarged EU on 29 July.
"Expectations from full members and expectations from candidate countries are quite different", the Turkish minister said according to the FT. "Everybody knows what the customs union means", he added.

Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn rebuffed the Turkish stance today (2 September) just before meeting Mr Gul in Newport, stating that the "full implementation" of the customs agreement represents a "red line for the European Union".
"This is not a matter of negotiation but of commitment by Turkey", he added. "This issue is of extremely serious concern".
Mr Gul later today after a meeting with UK foreign minister sounded more concilatory, stating that "Turkey will implement the issues related to the customs agreement".
"If there are problems with this matter, there are legal platforms to discuss this", he added. "It is not possible to reduce Turkish-EU relations to this issue".

Counter declaration
EU foreign ministers yesterday tried to reach agreement on a "counter-declaration" to Ankara’s unilateral declaration of 29 July, which says that it does not recognize the sovereignty of Cyprus despite extending its EU customs agreement to all new EU member states, including Cyprus.

The UK presidency has striven to achieve general consensus on the EU counter-declaration at the Wales meeting.
But Mr Straw told journalists that there was "broad, but not unanimous agreement" on the text.

Diplomats indicated that there are substantial differences between member states over the toughness of the EU's "counter-declaration".

Wrangling over words
The text is set to contain a paragraph reiterating the status of Cyprus as a state under international law.

But member states such as France, Austria, Greece and Cyprus itself want reassurance that Ankara will over time take concrete steps towards recognition.

"They want the declaration to have a dynamic character and call for progress by Turkey", one council diplomat said.

The counter declaration has now been referred back to member states' ambassadors in Brussels.

In spite of the difficulties surrounding the Cyprus issue, Mr Straw stated that he is "reasonably confident" that the agreed deadline for opening the accession talks with Turkey, on 3 October, will be met.

Free speech row
On top of the Cyprus problem, a fresh row over freedom of speech emerged yesterday which looks set to dampen the atmosphere between Ankara and Brussels still further.

The widely-read author Orhan Pamuk was charged by the Turkish public prosecutor with "denigrating" the nation through his comments about Turkish history, made to a Swiss paper a few months ago.

Although the Turkish public prosecutor is independent from the government, the case has already become an issue interfering with Turkey’s EU membership bid.

A spokeswoman for Commissioner Rehn told the EUobserver that the case of Mr Pamuk raises "serious concerns" about the actual "implementation on the ground" of political reforms by Turkey.

She added that the EU executive is also concerned about the "interpretation of certain provisions in the penal code by judges and prosecutors" in Turkey.

Turkey had to adapt a new penal code in order to bring its laws in line with EU human rights standards.

Denis MacShane, the UK's former Europe minister, said "It is a sickening blow to all pro-Turks in Britain and Europe hear the news that the Turkish authorities seek to persecute this great European writer", the Independent reports.


If Turkey wants to play the game she must follow and respect the rules of the game.
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Postby Piratis » Tue Sep 06, 2005 12:13 am

Well according to BBC the Turks want to get tough:

A commentary in the rightist Milliyet invites Turkey to get tough and go its own way, by changing the "Copenhagen Criteria" for EU entry into "Ankara Criteria".

Their arrogance has no limits. (which is nothing new)
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Postby ManoWAR » Tue Sep 06, 2005 4:45 pm

It was about time...
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Postby Agios Amvrosios » Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:14 am

I am not sure if the Turks will get through 3 October 2005 -especially because of the backing of the UK. Perfidous Albion makes us uneasy and even if a decent draft EU counter statement on Cyprus was made against Turkey Greece and Cyprus are too wary to do anything whilst the Brits have the presidency.
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