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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 13:23 GMT
Turkish press hopes for EU summit
Turkish press graphic

As the Turkish prime minister heads for the crucial EU summit in Brussels, hopes are high in the Turkish press that Ankara will be given a start date for EU membership talks.

Most papers view the decision with confidence, with one appealing for the "excitement in our society" not to be disappointed.

Some commentators warn that any refusal to open talks could have serious consequences for the EU as well as for Turkey.

The EU countries know they have no other option than to give us a start date for the negotiations. This new period that world history is entering requires them all to accept this... Turkey has said all it wants to say, now it has to overcome the next 48 hours without being beaten by the [European] tactic of 'getting on the other side's nerves'.


I want to address the EU authorities: Please do not exaggerate the issue. Do not extinguish the excitement in our society. Do not cause those who attach importance to relations with the EU to feel regret. Besides, even if you set more conditions, Turkey has already decided what it will do. It will not accept the things which are not appropriate for it.


In Turkey, there are those who view the EU process and the expected decision on 17 December as a choice between 'paradise and insanity'. It is not right to interpret the start of talks as entering paradise, but it is also not right to evaluate it as the beginning of a process that will cause the division of the country. When we wake up on the morning of the 17th, we will face this reality... I am hopeful that Turkey will get what it wants from Brussels and a new period will start.


A crisis or breaking off [the talks] would be a historic mistake for both sides; moreover after all this time, it would be stupid. Care is needed, because on both sides there are certain groups who play for such a mistake and who will be very happy with any disruption between Turkey and the EU. There are such groups in France, there are some in Austria. There are some in Germany, some in South Cyprus. And of course there are some in Ankara too. One must not give them any opportunity.


Do not be afraid! The EU will give us a date for membership talks on 17 December. Most probably the real talks will start in autumn 2005... The date will not be a definite guarantee of approval of Turkey's EU membership at the end of a predetermined time... The negotiation date is only the start of talks and they will take longer and be harder than is supposed. This situation means that neither the prejudices, nor the malicious intentions of the EU have been removed.


Europe has not yet achieved modern and democratic clarity about the rights, freedoms and, more importantly, the 'identities' of millions of Muslims who have been living within it. To be frank, Europe has not yet decided whether to give Muslims the rights and freedoms it has given to its own people. Whilst enduring such helplessness and shame, now Turkey, with a population of 70 million Muslims, has come to the door and asked for full membership rights. We understand very well that Europe gets frightened, saying that the 'Muslims are coming'... With the decision it will take on 17 December, Europe will either get smaller within itself and become a 'Christian club', or by opening its doors to Turkey it will prove that it is a 'project for civilization'.

Yeni Safak

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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