Even on the threshhold of formal discussions on joining together, Europe and Turkey tensions continue. Parliament deputies in Strasbourg have demanded that Ankara recognise the 1915 Armenian genocide. They also strongly criticised Turkey’s human rights record today. ‘Recognise Cyprus soon,’ they said. But the majority approved the start of EU membership negotiations with Turkey next week.
The assembly postponed a vote to ratify Turkey’s extended customs union with the EU. This was the doing of the conservative group, which favours something short of full membership for Turkey in the bloc. The postponement was a bid to put pressure on Ankara to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus. Meanwhile, EU governments remain deadlocked on a negotiating mandate for the talks. Austria has informally linked its acceptance of the start of the Turkey talks to an agreement to begin talks with Croatia. Ankara rejects anything less than full membership. Opinion polls show a majority of EU citizens, especially in Austria, France and Germany oppose this.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed parliament’s decisions as unimportant. To seek an accord, diplomats say, an emergency meeting of the 25 EU foreign ministers is likely on Sunday night. That is just hours before the Turkish negotiations are meant to start, in Luxembourg.