Washington Times
Oct 1 2005

Turkey wary of EU intentions
By Sibel Utku Bila


ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey yesterday girded for a showdown with the
European Union as anger and frustration simmered over what Turks see
as European backpedaling on pledges to admit the Muslim country to
the bloc.
With just three days left before the start of membership talks,
EU countries were still wrangling over accession terms for Turkey,
leaving Ankara on edge and its decades-old dream of integrating with
Europe shrouded in uncertainty.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said he would not go to Luxembourg
for the start of the talks Monday if Ankara is dissatisfied with the
EU's conditions.
"Undoubtedly, there is the risk of not starting membership
talks," Mr. Gul conceded late Thursday. "We are facing serious
problems."
In an 11th-hour bid for a breakthrough, the EU will hold an
emergency meeting of foreign ministers tomorrow to seek a compromise
on a negotiating framework -- the guiding procedures and principles
for the talks with Turkey.
The deadlock is blamed on Austria's insistence to offer Turkey
"privileged partnership" as an alternative to full membership, an
option Ankara flatly rejects.
Mr. Gul said he would not board the plane for Luxembourg before
seeing the final document, but remained hopeful of a compromise
despite the time pressure.
Turkey has been trying to join the EU since the 1960s, but its
place in Europe has come increasingly into question, especially since
French and Dutch voters rejected a planned EU constitution, partly
over concerns about the membership of this sizeable and relatively
poor Muslim country.
The European Parliament fueled angry accusations that the
admission bar is being deliberately raised for Turkey when it urged
Ankara earlier this week to acknowledge that the Ottoman Empire --
predecessor of the Turkish Republic -- committed "genocide" against
Armenians in World War I, as a condition for joining.