Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said the EU was putting up conditions Turkey could never accept and threatened not to show up for talks with the EU after Austria blocked an accord to start entry negotiations.
There are still hurdles to overcome before talks can start Monday
EU foreign ministers will meet in an emergency meeting on Sunday to try and reach the unanimous agreement needed for talks with Ankara to start --- leaving Turkey in the lurch as to whether talks, scheduled for Monday, will actually begin.
"No one expects us to go to Luxembourg before seeing the negotiation framework document," said Gül, who would be responsible for heading the Turkish negotiating delegation. "Of course there is a possibility that negotiations will not start."
Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Gül will be heading negotiations on Monday -- if they start
Gül (photo) would not comment on a non-binding resolution that passed European Parliament on Thursday that attempts to place new conditions on Ankara before starting talks, including recognition of the 1915 killing of Armenians as genocide
Regional election dictates Austrian course
With an important regional election the governing parties in Vienna want to win and 80 percent of Austrians against admitting Turkey to the bloc, domestic politics have motivated Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel's decision not to back down in the confrontation with Ankara, according to political scientist Fritz Plasser.
"He believed he could rally Germany and France to the idea of a 'privileged partnership,'" Plasser said. "When Schüssel understood that he would not be joined by Berlin and Paris, and saw that the European Parliament backed opening negotiations with Ankara, he had no other choice but to block (the talks) in order not to convey any sign of weakness to his public."
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan played down the importance of the Austrian position and said he didn't "think it's a very serious problem" to the start of talks. He also emphasized that Turkey would not accept anything less than full EU membership at the end of accession negotiations, which are expected to last at least 10 years.
The Ankara-Zagreb connection
Croatia shouldn't be left in the "eternal waiting room," according to Schüssel
Austria's insistence at linking negotiations with Turkey to an immediate opening of talks with Croatia has been another source of the most recent diplomatic wrangling. The EU cancelled negotiations with Croatia in March after Brussels said Zagreb was not doing enough to catch and prosecute suspected war criminal Ante Gotovina.
German conservatives in the European Parliament supported the Austrian position and argued that Croatia shouldn't be denied talks because of one man while there were still gross violations of human rights in Turkey.
"If we trust Turkey to make further progress, we should trust Croatia too," Schüssel told the Financial Times. "It's in Europe's best interest to start negotiations with Croatia immediately."
Other European politicians refused to see talks with the two countries connected.
"Turkey and Croatia are naturally separated topics, conditions were given for both of them," British European affairs minister, Douglas Alexander said. "The council of foreign ministers will decide objectively based on these conditions."