Agence France Presse -- English
September 30, 2005 Friday

Turkish press angered, frustrated by EU deadlock


Turkish newspapers Friday wondered whether the country's decades-old
efforts to integrate Europe are going down the drain as simmering
tensions on the eve of Turkey's accession talks appear to exasperate
even the staunchest proponents of EU membership.

In a front-page "Historical Warning" to the European Union, the
mass-selling daily Sabah appealed to European leaders to leave aside
domestic political concerns and clear the way for membership talks
with Ankara, scheduled to start on Monday.

"We hope EU leaders, politicians and bureaucrats will realize the
gravity of the situation," Sabah said. "It is not too late to return
to common sense."

Newspapers highlighted a warning by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul
that he would not go to Luxembourg for the opening of the talks if
the accession terms the EU outlines are unsatisfactory and Ankara is
presented with any last-minute offer other than full membership.

Tensions mounted Thursday when the EU failed to agree on Turkey's
negotiating conditions and called an emergency meeting for Sunday,
leaving Ankara on the edge and doubtful of the pledges the EU made at
its December 17 summit inviting Turkey to begin accession talks.

The deadlock in the EU was blamed on Austria's insistence to offer
Turkey "partnership" as opposed to full membership.

"Are we nearing the end of the road?" asked the pro-government Yeni
Safak, while the popular Aksam said relations were teetering "on the
brink of a breakdown."

The liberal Milliyet said the European Parliament threw "yet another
bomb" into an already demoralized Turkish public opinion by calling
on Ankara earlier this week to acknowledge that the Ottomans
committed "genocide" against Armenians in World War I as a condition
for accession.

"Is the EU aware that it is playing with fire?" Milliyet said. "Even
supporters of the EU have begun saying that enough is enough."

The newspaper also suggested that Turkey should be prepared for a
"timeout" in its bid to join the bloc "until minds in the EU change
in favor of putting relations with Turkey on the track of full
membership, under equal conditions with the others."