EU sends encouraging signals on Turkey’s accession prospects
Turkey will be included in the European Convention for the next wave of enlargement in 2004 on equal footing with the 12 other candidate countries, concluded a European Union (EU) summit convened in Laeken, Belgium, on Friday, December 14.
"It's the first time that a declaration by the European Union has made such concrete references to our chances for membership," Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said in a statement to the official Anatolia news agency. "We consider that an important development."
Heads of state and government from the 15-member Union issued a concluding statement for the summit saying that the EU Council welcomed the economic, social and political reforms that Turkey had advanced towards complying with the Copenhagen criteria for full membership in the Union, especially by making recent constitutional amendments.
The resumption of dialogue on the Cyprus question, as well as the compromise reached with the EU about the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), were also taken into consideration, Hurriyet reported.
Foreign Minister Ismail Cem stressed that Turkey's EU accession was not an easy process, Cem underlined importance of the upcoming year 2002, and said ''Turkey is not an ordinary candidate. We are a big and pretentious country having a population of 65 million. Turkey cannot be compared with any other candidate countries with its influential position in Europe, Central Asia, Caucasus, Balkans and other regions.''
Turkey was accepted as a candidate for EU enlargement talks at the Helsinki summit in November 1999, but a European Commission report last month said Ankara had not yet made the necessary political and economic reforms to be allowed to start negotiations. — (menareport.com)
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)