Helsinki Summit: Turkey must now be wooed to accept EU membership

EU high commissioner flies to Ankara on a personal mission as Turkey frowns upon membership offer

EUROPE'S FOREIGN-policy supremo last night made a dramatic personal bid to rescue Turkey's prospects of achieving its long-sought prize of membership of the EU, after Ankara signalled it might reject the offer.

After a day of high diplomacy which began with a historic decision by EU leaders to finally recognise Turkey as a candidate for EU entry, and ended with an apparent rebuff from Ankara, Javier Solana, the EU's high representative, left Helsinki for the Turkish capital, in an attempt to persuade the premier, Bulent Ecevit, of Europe's good faith.

The move to embrace Turkey came as Europe took a big step towards a near- doubling of its membership. The heads of government invited five former communist states plus Malta to join formal talks on EU membership early next year.

Two years ago, to Ankara's fury, Turkey was snubbed from the list of official candidate countries because of its human-rights record and its disputes with Greece. Yesterday that position was redressed, paving the way for the eventual admission of the first predominantly Muslim nation to the EU.

But the Turkish government, apparently angered by the manner in which the offer was announced publicly, and unhappy at details of the offer, reacted "very negatively", one diplomat said. At the centre of the dispute was the wording, which Turkey interpreted as demanding concessions. But Turkish government sources were suggesting last night that there was room for a deal. That could come today if Mr Solana can persuade Mr Ecevit to fly to Helsinki for a lunch. Some diplomats said that the symbolism of a personal mission could be decisive.

Turkey has been knocking on the EU's door since 1963 but the question of its membership remains a highly complex diplomatic issue, not just because of historical enmity with Greece but because of the practical ramifications. The two countries are embroiled in territorial disputes over Aegean islands and Turkey's occupation of northern Cyprus, which it invaded in 1974.

Cyprus also wants EU membership, but its candidature is marred by the territorial row with Turkey.

In declaring that Turkey is at last a candidate, the EU leaders said it would consider Cyprus's application without it "being a precondition" that the territorial row with Turkey is first resolved.

Europe also wants the territorial dispute between Turkey and Greece to be settled in the international court in The Hague, "at the latest by the end of 2004".

One official argued: "This time there is the momentum, not just of the terrible earthquakes, but the fact that we have two very good ministers, Ismail Cem and George Papandreou, in place at the same time."

Nevertheless, the decision-making process was inevitably going to be complicated, requiring an agreement, as one diplomat put it "with Greece but without Turkey in the room, then putting that to the Turks". Once a candidate, Turkey would have to meet tough criteria on human rights, including its treatment of the Kurds and of the PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, whom it has sentenced to death.

The failure over Turkey took the gloss off the decision by heads of government to approve six new candidates for EU membership and pave the way towards a near-doubling of its size.

Spurred on by the Kosovo crisis, Europe has pressed ahead with a much more radical enlargement than that envisaged just two years ago. In January or February next year the EU will begin formal talks with six new countries: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia. Two of those countries, Bulgaria and Romania, had given assurances on environmental standards,nuclear power, economic reform and the running of orphanages, to get to yesterday's stage.

In addition, discussion continues with six other applicant countries - Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia - over how they can bring their law into line with that of the European Union.

The 15-member EU hopes to have reformed its internal structures sufficiently to be ready to admit the new applicants by the end of 2002. For their part, the timing of entry will be dependent of the success of new member states in meeting the necessary criteria, allowing "second-wave" candidates to overtake those who applied earlier.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little