Saturday, May 31, 2008

Association Council Marks Tense Relations with EU

Foreign Minister Ali Babacan decided to attend the Association Council meeting in Brussels this past week after being assured that the word "accession" will not be removed from the position paper on Turkey's progress with which the meeting will conclude (see May 23 post). The Council basically rehashed what had already been discussed at the EU Troika meeting in May, but Babacan continued to dwell on earlier French attempts to remove the word "accession" and was particularly firm in his demand that EU officials assure Turkey that its membership is being taken seriously. Babacan said, "It is very essential that the goal of membership remains firmly in place. If you remove this, it will become a matter of debate in Turkey where the ongoing negotiations are leading us to. . . . Otherwise, questions like, 'Do we need a first-class democracy or is a second-class, or third-class democracy sufficient?' will begin to come up."

The Association's Council position paper urges Turkey to pass a number of key reforms in line with its negotiations with the European Commission.

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