Verheugen Promises "Factual and Fair" Report on Turkey
The EU's commissioner for enlargement, Günter Verheugen, has promised that next month's assessment report on Turkish membership of the Union will be "thorough, factual and fair."
Günter Verheugen told MEPs on Tuesday that the report, which will look at whether Ankara has met the political criteria for joining the 25-nation bloc, will also contain "one or two surprises." The Commissioner went on to say that he was against the idea, proposed recently by the Dutch government's advisory council, that Turkey be given the green light for EU membership but that negotiations only begin in two years. "I think that would amount to a further two years delay", Verheugen said. Instead, he gave a more definite timeline. He referred to a statement made by member states in Copenhagen in 2002 which said that if a positive decision is reached on Turkey then negotiations should be opened "without delay."
"Without delay means between four and six months," he said. Verheugen rejected calls by some MEPs for a partnership agreement between the EU and Turkey reminding them that Union has committed itself to Ankara's membership and that the only issue now is whether it fulfils the EU's political criteria. The Commission's report -- due out on Oct. 6 -- will also look at the effect of Turkish membership on the EU's institutions.