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Europe

Bolkestein Eyes Turkish Membership in 2016

Frits Bolkestein, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, expects Turkey to become an EU member in 2016.

Accession negotiations with Ankara could start as early as 2006 "if I'm allowed to fantasize a bit," Bolkestein said, speaking in the Dutch parliament on Thursday. The Turks could then enter the EU around ten years later. This would rule out starting negotiations next year, as Turkey expects. Bolkestein stressed that a rejection of Turkish membership at this stage would be unjust. "You cannot tell a country which has applied for membership 40 years ago, 'sorry, we're closed,'" he said. "That would be an unseemly policy." Turkey has had an association treaty with the EU since 1963. The treaty was meant to "facilitate the accession of Turkey to the [European] Community at a later date." Bolkestein appears to have changed his views on the subject. In his recently published book "The limits of Europe", the Dutch Commissioner still suggested that Turkey should stay out of the EU by writing that Turkey should act as a "buffer" protecting Europe from Syria, Iran and Iraq. (EUobserver.com)

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