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Firm picture emerging from The Hague over Turkish EU talks

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Firm picture emerging from The Hague over Turkish EU talks

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Turkey’s reform progress is welcome but it will have to accept tough conditions in any eventual negotiations on joining the European Union, according to a draft statement by the current Dutch EU presidency.

The document will be debated this Wednesday by EU ambassadors. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has consistently said that Turkey must be treated in the same way as any other candidate country. Yet its size and regional implications make it distinctive. The Dutch propose that, to get the ball rolling, Ankara would have to recognise Cyprus, but Gul has said: not before we get the green light that talks will start. There would be permanent restrictions for Turks on labour migration within the bloc. Membership negotiations could be suspended if the candidate backtracked on the Union’s rule of law and principles of democracy. Under the Dutch framework, the will of one third of the Member States would be enough to call ‘time out’. This goes one step further than the European Commission’s recommendation last month; It said only the EU executive would be able to propose a halt. Turkey would have to reach certain standards just to start talks on individual issues, said the Dutch paper; The whole process could not be concluded until the bloc had agreed on its post-2014 budget. The document left blank the crucial wording of the decision on whether and when to open entry negotiations with Ankara for leaders to fill in at their December 16-17 summit.