Final obstacles to the European Union opening membership talks with Turkey have been removed. This cleared the way for Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to board a plane to Luxembourg. EU foreign ministers there had been haggling over the text since Sunday evening.
The final snag was over a paragraph saying Turkey would not block EU members from joining international organisations and treaties.
Gul’s EU counterparts had spent much of the day in the dark; One-to-one diplomacy involoved the current EU president Britain and Austria. These two finally came to a compromise which let the EU-25 propose a negotiating mandate.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik confirmed her country had dropped its objection to the key phrase: The shared aim of the negotiations is accession.In return Vienna wanted strong assurances on the EU’s “absorption capacity”.
Failure to start the talks would deal a blow to political reform and foreign investment in Turkey. It would also deepen a sense of disfunction in Europe, after referendum defeats for the draft EU constitution in France and the Netherlands, and failure to agree on a long-term budget for the enlarged bloc.