Turkey cautiously optimistic of EU bid ahead of crunch summit

Agence France Presse
Dec 13 2004

Turkey cautiously optimistic of EU bid ahead of crunch summit

ANKARA, Dec 13 (AFP) – Turkey was cautiously optimistic Monday that
it would obtain a favorable result from this week’s crunch summit of
European Union leaders who will decide on Ankara’s membership bid,
but warned the 25-nation bloc not to cross Ankara’s “red lines.”

“Of course we have some red lines,” Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif
Sener said after a cabinet meeting here. “If a negative situation
arises in regard to these, that, of course, would be termed
unacceptable by Turkey.”

Sener, who is also the government spokesman, was speaking before
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in Brussels that Paris
wants Turkey to acknowledge the World War I massacre of Armenians as
“genocide” in the course of membership negotiations — a particularly
delicate subject for Turkey.

Sener refused to be drawn into what Ankara’s stance would be should
the Brussels summit fail to meet its expectations.

EU leaders are largely expected to give the green light to open
accession talks with Turkey at their summit Thursday and Friday in
Brussels, but with a set of strict conditions and a warning that the
process is likely to take at least a decade.

“The decision to be taken on December 17 must include the goal of
full membership without leaving room for interpretation,” Sener said.
“A clear date for the (start of) negotiations is also among our

The minister added that Ankara had some non-negotiable demands from
the EU, which he did not think EU leaders would ignore.

Turkey says it has fulfilled the necessary criteria to earn a firm
date for accession talks and insists that it will agree to nothing
less than full membership at the end of the talks.

Ankara also objects to what it calls attempts to impose new political
conditions that it should meet in order to start membership talks.