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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
EU delivers Turkish membership snub
EU member states flags
The EU has serious doubts about Turkish membership

The European Union will not endorse Turkey's demands to set a date by the end of the year for beginning entry talks.

During a discussion about the EU's expansion plans on Wednesday, some members of the European Commission apparently raised doubts that Turkey could ever become a member of the EU.

As it prepares for general elections next month, Turkey has already warned the EU that it would provoke a crisis if, by the end of the year, it had failed to set a date for starting membership talks.

Prime MInister Bulent Ecevit (right) and Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel
Turkey's leaders have pressed for early progress
It is a risk the EU seems prepared to take.

According to senior EU sources, the European Commission believes it is impossible to give, even indirectly, a date for Turkey.

Several commissioners apparently raised serious doubts that Turkey could ever become a member of the EU.

Some commissioners have reportedly compared Turkey to Morocco or Ukraine in terms of suitability for membership.

Next week's report is expected to be highly critical about alleged torture in Turkish prisons.

Muslim factor

Concern over human rights is the main reason why Turkey has been waiting for years to start membership talks, but the debate indicates a general unease in the EU over admitting a big Muslim country in its midst.

There will be better news for the other 12 applicant countries, mostly from former communist bloc. Ten of them will be told they could conclude entry talks by December and join in 2004.


Senior EU sources say Poland has the biggest problems in adopting the EU's massive rule-book

But they face a period of strict monitoring.

The European Commission will introduce strict mechanisms to measure how they apply EU rules. And if they are found wanting, they will be warned entry into the EU may be delayed or even cancelled.

Senior EU sources say Poland has the biggest problems in adopting the EU's massive rule-book.

In agriculture, officials say, the problems are enormous, and seven applicants out of the 10 face difficulties implementing EU competition laws.

Lagging even further behind are Romania and Bulgaria.

They hope to join in 2007, but the European Commission will give them no fixed date next week.

See also:

03 Oct 01 | Europe
08 Mar 01 | Europe
04 Dec 00 | Europe
20 Oct 00 | Europe
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