Yet another obstacle to Turkey's EU plans
i took this from todays online Telegraph...i find the last paragraph so true...

Yet another obstacle to Turkey's EU plans
(Filed: 01/10/2005)

Poor Turkey. Its hopes of opening membership talks with the EU, entertained at least since it signed an association agreement in 1963, have, at the eleventh hour, received yet another blow.

Claiming to speak for a wide swath of opinion within the union, Austria is demanding that talks between Brussels and Ankara should open next Monday only if a clear alternative to membership is offered. Britain, which holds the EU presidency, has called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in Luxembourg tomorrow in a last-ditch attempt to reach consensus on a negotiating mandate.

Last December, an EU summit concluded that Turkey had carried out sufficient reform to qualify for membership talks. Since then, however, Ankara's prospects have darkened: France and Holland have rejected the EU constitution, and Angela Merkel, who favours a "privileged partnership" over membership, has emerged as frontrunner to be Germany's next chancellor. The reservations of Austria, where Ankara's EU ambitions are widely unpopular, come on the eve of a Land election in Styria.

It falls to Britain, a long-time advocate of Turkish membership, to deal with the latest impediment to the promise made last December and reaffirmed in June. The Austrians are hinting that acquiescence over Turkey is conditional on restarting membership talks with Croatia. But these depend on Zagreb's co-operation with the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague, in particular bringing to justice the indicted Croatian general Ante Gotovina. While a deal with Vienna over Croatia cannot be ruled out, it would run into strong opposition from Holland and Sweden if the tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, fails to give Zagreb a clean bill of health.

Burdening Ankara with specious new obligations, a divided Europe is seeking to backtrack on a solemn undertaking. The Turks might be best advised to keep their distance from such an organisation, opting for something less than membership that would nevertheless allow them to exploit their competitive edge in the world's largest single market. But they have long set their hearts on full integration and, having co-operated with the EU over internal reform and the partitioned island of Cyprus, do not deserve to be thwarted at the last moment.

The EU has a strategic choice. Either it patiently works at absorbing a large, Muslim country over the next 10 to 20 years, or it turns it away. The first promises a unique bridge between the West and the Islamic world. The second risks converting a well-intentioned but proud applicant into a radical foe.

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