Sunday

14th Aug 2022

EU continues to be deadlocked on Turkey

(Updated 15.50 CET) EUOBSERVER / LUXEMBOURG - The opening of historic accession talks with Turkey today remains uncertain as discussions have been complicated by last-minute Turkish objections to wording on participation in international organisations, concerning Cyprus.

Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik told journalists after lunch today that Vienna had given up its demand that the phrase "accession" as a "shared objective" of the negotiations be scrapped in the first paragraph of the negotiating framework.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The initial demand had reflected Vienna's rejection of full membership for Turkey, instead preferring a loose partnership with Ankara.

The Austrians instead wanted a reference to article 49.2 of the EU Treaty, which states that the "conditions of admission" of a member states are "subject of an agreement between the Member States and the applicant State" - a wording which is more ambiguous and conditional than the clear-cut word "accession".

But Ms Plassnik told reporters this afternoon that "accession had never been in doubt".

Diplomats qualified the Austrian concession as "progress".

However, Vienna is still insisting on a paragraph on the EU's own "absorption capacity" to welcome Turkey as a new member state to be further strengthened.

But any changes on the text of the negotiating framework run the risk of stirring fresh Turkish anger.

Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul reiterated over the weekend that he would not fly to Luxemburg on Monday to symbollically attend the foreign minister's dinner, if there was no clear text that Ankara could agree upon.

Cyprus

Diplomats commented this afternoon that the Cyprus issue has re-emerged as a prime hurdle for talks to start today.

Ankara is strongly resisting an amendment to a paragraph secured by the Cypriots last week.

The passage states that Turkey is to refrain from blocking EU member states from participating in international organisations.

In Ankara's view, the passage would mean de facto recognition of Cyprus - something which it has so far categorically refused.

UK foreign minister Jack Straw told journalists this morning after bilateral meetings with Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik, as well as with the Greek and Cypriot foreign ministers, that negotiations were "hard and difficult".

He added that he "could not be certain" that an agreement could be reached.

A meeting of the EU task force on Croatia, originally scheduled for 9.30, has been postponed by the presidency until an agreement on Turkey is finalized.

US steps in

According to Reuters, the US, which has long championed Ankara's membership bid, has stepped into the fray.

US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has reportedly had telephone calls with both Ankara and Vienna to try and unblock the stalemate.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us