18 November 2004
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that Turkey will accept no alternative to full European Union (EU) membership.
Ankara expects a clear-cut negotiation start-date from the EU. A month before the critical December 17 summit, Gul spoke to Zaman and reacted strongly against the "special status" recommendation. He said that for Turkey the negotiations are for full membership and nothing else. As for the possibility of recognizing Greek Cyprus, Gul said that Turkey has taken courageous and civilized steps towards a solution on the island but that Turkey will not recognize the Greek side before the summit. He implied that the use of veto against Turkey by the Cypriot Greeks will be prevented by the Union.
The Minister also shared his hopes for a negotiation start date at the summit and said, "I am very hopeful. With the support of foreign politicians, Turkey has realized a civil revolution. After all our efforts, we'll see, but theoretically everything is possible."
The Foreign Minister reiterated Turkey's expectation of a date within the first half of 2005 for the start of negotiations, saying that Turkey relies on the Copenhagen Criteria in this regard.
News Agencies and Zaman Online