Thousands of Turkish Kurds marched through the centre of Brussels today calling for the Kurdish nation to be included in Turkey’s entry talks with the European Union. The demonstration also called on Ankara to free rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned by Turkish authorities on charges of treason. It came on the eve of Turkey’s entry talks, which are scheduled to start in Luxembourg on Monday.
But a deadlock over whether to offer Istanbul full membership is threatening to delay negotiations. EU ministers are meeting on Sunday to try to end the stalemate. Austria has been the most vocal opponent to full membership, insisting Turkey is offered a so-called privileged partnership instead. On Friday, Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul was refusing to speculate on whether talks would go ahead. However Turkey must enter the EU with its self-respect intact, he said. Many Turks accuse Europe of moving the goalposts, and say conditions imposed by the EU are unacceptable. Britain, which currently holds the EU presidency, is determined to secure an agreement at Sunday’s emergency session. But with divisions remaining over how to approach accession talks, the green light could come later than expected.