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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 22:18 GMT
Analysis: Greek stumbling block

Officials in the Turkish capital want to talk about the membership deal Officials in the Turkish capital want to talk about the membership deal


By the BBC's Chris Morris in Ankara

The Turkish cabinet has been meeting in special session to discuss the European membership offer.

It has to decide whether it believes there are any unacceptable conditions attached.

Turkey knows it needs to improve its human rights record and implement democratic reform.

But the real problem lies in its relations with Greece.

Although Turkey has been a front-line member of Nato since the 1950s, it has been kept at arms length from Europe because of a series of disputes with the Greeks, who are already in the EU.

European officials have been working feverishly over the last few weeks to come up with a form of words which would be acceptable to both Turkey and Greece.

Cyprus problem

The Greeks say they have got what they wanted but officials in Ankara will not be pleased with parts of the final summit declaration.

The EU has backed the Greek position on the best way to resolve its territorial disputes with Turkey and on how to handle the membership application of the divided island of Cyprus.

The Europeans argue that these are not conditions on Turkey's candidacy and the EU's top foreign policy official, Javier Solana, is in Ankara to try to persuade the Turkish Government that this is a good deal for everyone.

There is still optimism that the process will end successfully.

If it fails Turkey's relations with Europe, especially with Greece, will be badly damaged.

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See also:
10 Dec 99 |  Europe
Turkey to dominate EU debate
09 Dec 99 |  Europe
Analysis: EU searches for action plan
18 Oct 99 |  Europe
Radical plan to reshape EU
13 Oct 99 |  Europe
EU set to spread east

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