A deal enabling Turkey to begin talks on joining the EU has been reached, overcoming objections from Austria. Here are some leaders' views on the agreement:
TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH GUL
Turkey gained what it wanted. Its full membership perspective is clear. Another alternative is out of question... I believe that Turkey will become a full member of the EU in the end. Then those who have some hesitations about Turkey, will have totally different views.
BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY JACK STRAW
This is a further key step on the road to full membership... It will strengthen the European Union. It means now that we are an EU founded on values, not on history... Turkey has always been a European country. We are showing tonight that it's not about religion and religious differences, it's about values.
AUSTRIAN FOREIGN MINISTER URSULA PLASSNIK
Now it is made clear that the Union's ability to take it in is a condition that must be fulfilled for Turkey to join, or else it will not happen... this in a text about which everyone said at the start that it was impossible to change even a comma.
AUSTRIAN CHANCELLOR WOLFGANG SCHUESSEL
For the first time ever, we have set an extra condition which will yet be very important in the future for Europe, namely the ability of the Union to take in new members... In the event that Turkey does not fulfil the conditions, an alternative was set - the word is the "strongest possible bond" - and the same applies if the Union cannot take in [Turkey].
For the citizens of Europe... we have created certainties that they cannot simply be steamrollered, and it [the membership negotiation] is not the start of an automatic mechanism that cannot be stopped.
GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER JOSCHKA FISCHER
Europe is the winner today. What has been promised for decades is now entering its decisive phase, which will last a long time... By that time, many fears will have been overcome... The eastern Mediterranean will be crucial for peace in the 21st century, not only for Turkey, not only for the region, but for Europe as a whole.
PORTUGUESE FOREIGN MINISTER DIOGO FREITAS DO AMARAL
[The agreement will] probably displease Mr [Osama] Bin
Laden, who has done everything to prevent this moment arriving.
FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER PHILIPPE DOUSTE-BLAZY
Any (EU) state at any stage can interrupt the talks, for
FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT VALERY GISCARD D'ESTAING
France used to have a grand project: the political union of
Europe... We have allowed two further enlargements which are obviously going to transform Europe into a large free trade zone: that's what I regret...
I learnt of the news with sadness and surprise... It was said recently that the wishes of citizens are not taken into account sufficiently... The French people said four months ago, "We are against Turkey's entry", and here we are, four months later, and it's happening.
US STATE DEPARTMENT
We think that a democratic reforming Turkey that is firmly
rooted in the European and trans-Atlantic alliance is positive for
Europe. It's positive for the United States and it's positive for
Turkey as well... I think it's safe to say we are doing those things which we
think might have some positive effect on Turkey beginning accession
[Spokesman Sean McCormack]
FORMER TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ISMAIL CEM
If the negotiations do indeed start, we have no reason to
celebrate. I am worried that there will be very serious problems both between the EU and Turkey and within Turkey itself.
TURKISH OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ONUR OYMEN
We are a parliamentary democracy and we believe the
government should first inform the parliament and the public of
the contents of such an important deal before accepting it... We fear the text agreed will be even harder on Turkey than
the conclusions of the EU Council last December, which spoke of
an open-ended negotiation process and permanent restrictions on
the movement of Turkish labour. We fear the text may lead Turkey
to a horizon other than full EU membership.