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    Vienna's stance weakens, doors swing open for Turkey

    Hürriyet Haber
    04.10.2005 - 11:29 | Son Güncelleme:

    EU ministers concluded what amounted to 30 hours of meetings late Monday in a vote of approval for the crucial framework document set to guide Turkey's EU accession talks. Following a last minute push by Austria to have the controversial "priviliged partnership" option tacked on to the document, EU ministers were beset by crisis, as the group was unable to relay to Ankara what the final copy would look like.

    With Ankara voicing its unwillingness to send a Turkish delegation to Luxembourg without seeing a final copy of the framework document, and making it clear that it would not come to the negotiations table with anything less than full EU membership as the clearly stated goal of the talks, the accession talks looked until the last minute as though they might not happen.
    Towards the evening on Monday though, Vienna's stance on the offer of full membership to Turkey appeared to weaken, and with British Foreign Minister Jack Straw passing on details of new breaking decisions to Ankara, the Turkish EU negotiating team began preparations to leave for Luxembourg.
    Ankara drops rejection of crucial fifth paragraph in document
    Also playing a role in the last minute framework document crisis was Turkey's objection to the fifth paragraph in the framework document, which states that if accepted as an EU member, Turkey is to accept EU policy as its own in all international organizations. Ankara's rejection to this clause sprang from fear that it would mean that Turkey's veto power in NATO would be lifted. Following an evening meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, FM Abdullah Gul, and British Ambassador Peter Westmacott, as well as a phone call from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confirming that Turkey's veto rights in NATO were not in jeopardy, Turkish objections to this controversial paragraph were officially withdrawn.
    Gul arrives in Luxembourg past midnight, clocks stopped with two minutes til October 4
    With an official announcement from British FM Straw that all sides had been appeased, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul left Ankara for Luxembourg in the late evening, arriving at a little past midnight. As a jest of the Turkish delegation, diplomatic clocks in Luxembourg were held at two minutes before midnight, in recognition of the fact that EU accession talks with Turkey had originally been scheduled to start October 3. FM Gul was met at the door by British FM Jack Straw, EU Commissioner for Expansion, Olli Rehn, and EU Foreign Policy president Javier Solana.
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