Turkey Has Alternative Options to EU | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.05.2004
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Turkey Has Alternative Options to EU

Turkey has said it will not have any problems in finding a new course if the EU decides against opening membership negotiations in December.

Speaking on Tuesday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned: "If the EU doesn't take the decision we want, Turkey won't have any difficulties in finding a new course to follow thanks to its big potential." According to Ankara Anatolia news agency the Turkish leader said the EU "will have difficulties in talking about European ideals as of that day." EU officials, including those from the 10 new countries, will decide in December on the basis of a Commission's report whether accession talks with Turkey should begin. At a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish Parliament, Erdogan said it would be wrong and unjust for the EU to keep Turkey waiting more.

Turkey's formal relations with the EU date back to an association agreement in 1963 and was granted candidate country status in 1999. However, the fear is that the EU will not deliver on its promise at a time when Turkey has reached a critical stage in its reform process. Erdogan said the reforms which involve significant political, constitutional and social changes would continue regardless of whether Turkey gets a date to start accession negations with the EU.
However, there are concerns that if Brussels delivers a negative response at the end of this year, the reform process might come to a halt. "The real issue is whether the changes that are being introduced will be consolidated without a negotiating date from the EU", Kemal Kirisci, a political scientist at Bosphorus University was quoted saying by the Financial Times. (EUobserver.com)

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