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Turkey Rejects Latest EU Proposals
2005-10-3 20:44:30    CRIENGLISH.com

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Monday that Turkey has rejected proposed changes to its framework agreement with the EU, deepening a crisis as EU leaders tried to overcome a deadlock over starting European Union entry talks. 

Accession talks are scheduled to open later Monday, but Austria has insisted that Turkey is offered a partnership if full membership talks do not work out.
 
Turkey has said it will only accept full membership talks.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said that ''the EU has proposed some changes to the framework document. Our minister has rejected them all.''
 
Officials have said that Turkey's delegation to open EU accession talks, which is to be led by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, will not depart from Turkey until the minister has seen and approved the EU accession framework that lays out the plans for negotiations.
 
''The responsibility is with the EU ... If there is no result, there will be no departure from here,'' Tan said.
 
EU foreign ministers were meeting in Luxembourg to try and resolve the crisis. Failure to start the negotiations Monday would be a serious blow to the credibility of the EU, which promised in December to open the talks.
 
While many EU countries are reticent to accept the huge, overwhelmingly Muslim nation, Turkish officials have emphasized how accepting Turkey would help ease tensions between the Muslim East and the Christian West.
 
Countries that ''cannot accept Turkey in the EU are those who oppose an alliance of civilizations,'' Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.
 
''They will have to pay the price,'' Erdogan said. ''An alliance of civilizations is a must if the EU wants to be a global power, if it wants to prevent a clash of civilizations.
 
''The EU needs Turkey as much as Turkey needs the EU,'' he said.
 
Turkish officials were preparing for the possibility that negotiations would not begin as planned.
 
Ali Babacan, the economy minister, met with his aides and the head of the Central Bank late Sunday to discuss the possible effects on the economy. He said the country would suffer only a ''limited'' impact if talks in Luxembourg over Turkey's EU bid fail.
 
''Today, we have a strong economy ... that can look to the future with confidence,'' Babacan told the Anatolia news agency. ''Any negative development ... would have a limited impact on the financial markets and the economy.'' Turkey's benchmark IMKB-100 index dropped 1.60 percent in morning trading Monday, a relatively minor fall.
 
Backed by funds from the International Monetary Fund, Turkey has been carrying out structural economic reforms and has been recovering from a serious financial crisis it experienced in 2001.
 
''Today, our economy is not one that is easily susceptible,'' Babacan said. ''In short, Turkey is not the old Turkey.''
 
Turkish newspapers on Monday expressed frustration over Austria's position.
 
''Viennese grudge,'' read a headline in Sabah newspaper. Austria ''insistent for the EU to remain a Christian club,'' the paper said.
 
''Will Oct. 3 go down in history as the day when Turkey and the EU started negotiations or the day when the meeting of civilizations was dealt a severe blow,'' questioned Milliyet newspaper.
 
A TNS-PIAR poll published in Sabah newspaper Monday showed that 49 percent of Turks believe Turkey should reject an offer of a privileged partnership. EU support was still strong, with 60 percent of Turks saying they favor EU membership. The polls was conducted of 1,420 people. No margin of error was given.

(Source: AP/IHT)

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