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Emotions kept in check ahead of EU decision on Turkey

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Emotions kept in check ahead of EU decision on Turkey

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to keep his cool at the European leaders’ summit.

“We do not believe that unacceptable terms will be imposed on us. But if they are we will put the affair on ice, and continue on our own path, in a mature way,” he said, before leaving Ankara for Brussels. Erdogan added he wanted to focus on how Turkey could contribute to the EU and help turn it into a global power. Ankara has said it will not accept a lesser “special partnership”. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, currently steering the EU’s rotating presidency, said the European Council of leaders was using as a reference the European Commission’s report, which considered that Turkey has made enough progress to warrant the opening of negotiations. But the opinions of states such as Austria and France must be taken into account. He said the talks were still one year away. The decision whether to launch the procedure needs a ‘yes’ from each of the 25 member states in the EU now. Turkey first applied to join Europe forty years ago. Some of the Istanbul locals are in two minds about it today: “I’m totally against making any compromises to get into the European Union. Give me a Turkish union any day,” said one. “I don’t think the EU will give us anything. We don’t need them; they need us!” said another. About three quarters of Turks, however, say they want to join the EU, and both Turkish and European Union diplomats are working closely together to make that possible.