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» 10/05/2004
TURKEY - EUROPE
Turkey's forty year march towards Europe (An Overview)

Ankara (AsiaNews) – The European Commission's report on Turkey's progress toward European Union (EU) membership will be unveiled in Brussels tomorrow. If the report's recommendations are favourable, the next step in Turkey's eventual entry will be the upcoming European Council, to be held on December 17. The Council's 25 member states will decide whether to begin talks with Ankara on its EU accession.

The first official ties between Europe and Turkey date back to 1964. Forty years ago the old European Economic Community (EEC) and the Turkish government signed an 'Association Agreement' creating a commercial union between the two parties. Implementation was expected to be done in three stages and take 13 years.

A new protocol was signed in 1970 establishing a new timetable of measures in which both parties offered each other concessions in the areas of industrial goods (to be realised by 1982) and agricultural products (1992). However, the economic difficulties Turkey faced in the 1970s prevented the accord from being implemented.

Negotiations between the two sides restarted in 1980 but came to halt in September of that year when the Turkish military staged a coup. In 1986 they started again but this time under the shadow cast by a rising anti-European Islamic party. In 1987, Turkey applied for full EU membership. Brussels's first answer came in 1989 and was evasive, but since it was not an outright refusal then Turkish president Ozal saw it as a positive step.

In 1999 Turkey was officially accepted as a candidate for EU membership. But the turning point came in 2002 when Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the Moderate Islamic 'Justice and Development Party' (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP) ran and won the elections on a platform of reforms and modernisation. One of his key policy objectives was Turkey's entry into Europe by 2012. According to Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan, his country can meet the Maastricht criteria within five years.

Turkey has 70 million inhabitants, 99 per cent Muslim. Christians represent 0.6 per cent of the population with some 30,000 Catholics.

This year the economy is expected to grow by 7.9 per cent with inflation running at 25.3 per cent. Unemployment stands at 10.5 per cent (2003 data).


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See also
12/17/2004 TURKEY - EUROPEAN UNION
EU's Cyprus demand dismays Turkey
10/05/2004 TURKEY - EUROPE
A ticket to Europe for Turkey? Yes, but …
by Marek Zuboir
10/06/2004 TURKEY - EUROPE
What changes in store for Turkey and the EU
09/08/2004 TURKEY - EUROPEAN UNION
EU Commissioner says Turkey's entry will end European integration
12/16/2004 Turkey – EUROPEAN UNION
Brussels to decide Turkish bid to join EU

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
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