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EU leaders meet for final summit of 2006

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EU leaders meet for final summit of 2006


EU leaders look set to make Turkey an example of their new, tougher policy on the bloc’s future enlargement when they meet today and tomorrow at their final summit of the year in Brussels. The strategy is believed to be an attempt to acknowledge widespread public anxiety over allowing more nations to join the 25 member bloc. The most recent research shows only 45 percent of EU citizens support further expansion. Foreign ministers agreed on Monday to a partial freeze on Ankara’s entry negotiations, to penalise it for refusing to open its ports to Cyprus. Supporters of Turkey’s accession, including the US and the UK, see it as an opportunity to anchor a strategically important and moderate majority Muslim nation.

But concerns over Ankara’s democracy and human rights records have led to fears of mass westward immigration and a huge strain on the EU’s finances. EU Policy Analyst Amanda Akcakoca: “Some member states should have a more mature attitude, rather than projecting Turkey’s membership in a very negative way, they should do it much more positively and more fairly. Because, at the end of the day, Turkish membership is 15 or 20 years down the track. It is a very long time and both the EU and Turkey will have changed by then.” Other areas of discussion at the summit, the last of the Finnish Presidency, are likely to include co-operation on terrorism, the stalled EU constitution, Serbia’s membership application and a possible statement on the situation in Darfur.

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