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Monday, December 27, 2004

Turkey�s EU bid: The long road ahead

"Turkey's EU bid: The long road ahead
Turkey has finally been given a date -- October 3, 2005 -- on which it can begin negotiations that may in the fullness of time lead to membership of the European Union. There has been dissent from this decision from various quarters, notably in France and Austria, not to mention Armenia, who complain of an attempt to �manufacture� an �artificial� link to bind a Middle Eastern country to what Goethe called �the Old Continent�.
The process of negotiations that is scheduled to start in October 2005 would take at least a decade before Ankara could be admitted. Many details remain to be settled, including the issues of Cyprus, human rights and legal reform. And the Turkish government, now led by a government dominated by a moderate Islamic party, has to show how deep the roots are of the secular tradition established by Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s and �30s.
At the European Union summit, the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said the possibility of EU membership was for Turkey a promise of greater prosperity and influence in the Islamic world. Addressing his people after coming back from Brussels, he said, �There will no longer be interruptions, interim periods [of military rule] and interventions, because there will be no need for them�. He added that �Turkey is no longer a country that will progress for five years, stall for 20 years, fight for three years. Stability has come�.
These words were very expressive and show how very decisive Turks consider EU membership to be for their future. "

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