Turkey Lists Major Concerns to EU

(AFP)–Turkey has given the European Union a paper outlining its major concerns over a decision the bloc’s leaders will take later this month on Ankara’s membership bid.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said on Thursday–Ankara will not recognize the Greek Cypriot government of EU member Cyprus until a durable solution is found to the 30-year conflict between the divided island’s Turkish and Greek communities.

"We expect a clear date for the start of accession talks–leaving no room for second thoughts and containing no conditions–to be announced on December 17," Gul told reporters–referring to the date of the Brussels summit when EU leaders will decide whether to open membership talks with Turkey.

"Another very important issue is that the negotiation process should be sustainable," Gul said. "The perspective of full membership also should be very clearly declared."

Ankara has ruled out suggestions by opponents of full membership that it should instead be granted a special partnership status with the EU.

"There should be no doubts on these issues," Gul said. He said the deman’s he listed were outlined in a paper he handed to the EU’s Dutch presidency this week in response to a first draft of conclusions for the December 16-17 summit.

The draft–leaked to the press on Monday–gives the go-ahead to membership talks with Turkey–but warns that the EU cannot guarantee ultimate membership.

It also says the negotiations could be suspended if Turkey violated fundamental EU principles. And the document contains EU expectations from Ankara to formally recognize EU member Cyprus.

"Recognition is out of the question until a final settlement is reached on the conflict," Gul said on Thursday of Cyprus’ division.

Turkey recognizes only the breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north of the island and is the only country to do so. Turkey maintains some 30,000 troops on the island–which has been divided along ethnic lines for the past 30 years.


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