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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 October 2005, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Austria repeats Turkey objections
Poster promoting Turkey's EU bid in Istanbul
Turkey wants nothing less than the offer of full membership
Austria has again urged the EU to offer Turkey an alternative to full membership of the bloc, days before talks on Turkey's accession bid.

Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said he wanted the EU to acknowledge popular concerns over its expansion.

EU ministers will hold emergency talks on Sunday to try and resolve the deadlock over Turkey's membership bid.

Turkey says it must have the ultimate promise of full membership before it enters EU accession talks on Monday.

Chancellor Schuessel told Austrian television on Friday that he was not setting out "new conditions for Turkey".

But, he said, "it was necessary to understand people's concerns about the EU's ability to truly welcome" new member states.

We need a bridge between east and west
Adam, Nottingham, UK

Austria's objections to offering Turkey full membership have forced the EU to hold Sunday's crisis talks, in the hope of agreeing a framework in time for the formal accession talks, scheduled for Monday.

Turkey is due to enter the talks in Luxembourg on Monday, provided it accepts the framework for talks agreed beforehand by EU ministers.

"No-one expects us to go to Luxembourg before seeing the negotiation framework document," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said, adding there was a possibility that negotiations would not start.

'Partnership - not membership'

According to opinion polls, not one EU country has a majority of people in favour of Turkey's attempts to enter the bloc.

Turkish girls sit on the banks of the Bosporus, Istanbul
Many say Turkey's Islamic identity ties it closely to Asia, not Europe

Mr Schuessel denied his tough stance towards Turkey was an attempt to improve his party's standing in elections in Styria province, due to be held on Sunday.

He said the EU must take into account popular anxiety over its expansion.

Voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the EU constitution in referendums earlier this year, months after the bloc expanded to include several new members.

Diplomats say Austria is insisting that Turkey be offered a partnership with the EU as an explicit alternative to full membership.

Turkey has made it clear that it will walk away rather than negotiate for anything less than full membership.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford says many in Turkey feel tricked by Europe, which they see as constantly moving the goalposts for accession.

The negotiations, once started, are expected to take about 10 years.

Croatian question

Turkey needs to make huge efforts to meet the stringent requirements for EU membership, including absorbing the 80,000-page EU rule book into its domestic law.

The European Commission has promised to monitor closely how Turkey proceeds. If it is deemed to be slipping backwards in theory or practice, then the commission will not hesitate to make its misgivings public.

In an open letter published on Thursday Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini said Turkey had "fully satisfied the conditions" laid down for opening membership talks on 3 October.

Turkey's bid represented "an opportunity for a major relaunch of the entire European project," he said, calling for an end to "our selfishness and uncertainties".

Separately, Croatia's plans to persuade the EU to revive membership negotiations received a setback after a top UN prosecutor attacked it for failing to prosecute a fugitive war criminal.

Correspondents say a more positive evaluation might have persuaded Austria, which wants to start Croatia's EU entry talks, to drop its objections to starting EU accession talks with Turkey on Monday.

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