Zaman Online, Turkey
Feb 28 2005

Chief Negotiator Needed for Turkey's EU Negotiations
By Suleyman Kurt
Published: Monday 28, 2005

Ankara has been accused of not doing its homework and slowing down
the reform process, but insists that its work is on schedule.

Turkey has succeeded in making a significant number of political
reforms in order to meet the Copenhagen Criteria over the past two
years, but has not yet determined who its chief negotiator will be
and has not made structural changes to meet the economic criteria
required in the process of joining the European Union (EU) since the
last EU summit on December 17, 2004. Documents such as the Accession
Partnership Document, the Frame Text, and the Political and Cultural
Dialogue Document must be prepared before negotiations begin.

Ankara says the work is underway and that there are no delays in the
process. The government is expected to announce its chief negotiator
within the week and that work will subsequently speed up.

Turkey has been focused on naming its negotiation delegate and on the
adaptation protocol for October 3rd when negotiations begin, but has
not registered much progress in the political arena over the last few
months. EU leaders set forth their expectation of a "sustainable
political reform process" when they gave Turkey a start date for
negotiations at the December 17th summit in Brussels. EU Commission
officials repeat concerns that Turkey has not met the market economy
standards. In this field, if the required structural arrangements are
not achieved in this area, the start of negotiations on economic
topics will be jeopardized. The EU objects to the structures of the
Central Bank and public banks. In addition, it is requiring that
Turkey meet the provisions of the Customs Union.

The approval of the Accession Partnership Document, the Frame Text,
and the Political and Cultural Dialogue Document has been stretched
out to the second half of 2005. In addition to concerns about the
delay, Ankara is worried a out the content of these documents. The
possible inclusion of certain terms will create difficulties for
Ankara, specifically defining Alevi and Kurdish groups as minorities
and statements about Cyprus and Armenia. Turkish diplomats are trying
to ensure that these documents are flawless. The Turkish public has
shared the EU's interest in Ankara's choice for chief negotiator,
which will be announced before the "EU-Turkey Troika Meeting" on
March 7th.