Turkey Approaching Month of Decision

The European Union seems set to give Turkey a green light next month to start entry talks with the club, but warns it cannot guarantee that the predominantly-Muslim nation will eventually join, according to a draft document obtained by Agence France-Presse (AFP). The first draft comes as Turkey reiterates that it wants a clear date to start talks, and will accept nothing less than full membership in the EU.

The European "welcomes the decisive progress made by Turkey in its far-reaching reform process" said the draft, extracts of which were obtained by AFP Monday.

It also "reiterates its determination to enable Turkey to join the European community of values" said the draft, while reaffirming the EU's "confidence that Turkey will sustain the process of reforms to that end."

However, the draft reiterates that EU membership negotiations would be an "open-ended process whose outcome cannot be guaranteed before the end."

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, recommended at the start of October that the EU start membership talks with Ankara but also warned that the process was not guaranteed to result in Turkey's EU entry. In its Oct. 6 recommendation, the EU commission said it would call for talks to be suspended "in case of a serious and persistent breach of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded.” The EU draft also reiterated warnings contained in the October Commission report that EU talks with Turkey could be suspended in case of a violation of fundamental EU principles.

Mission Network News (MNN), which reports that pressure from the EU and human rights' watchers may push Turkey to action, stated that authorities have been slowly changing its treatment of religious minorities—a giant step of renovation—undoing over eight decades of 'state' interference.

"Turkey is wanting to become part of the European Union and have gone through some of the early processes in seeing that happen,” International Needs Network’s Rody Rodeheaver told MNN.

Rodeheaver explained that because Turkey wants to be part of the EU, the attitude could be more kind. "Part of that process would mean that Turkey would need to allow for more diversity in their religious sector. What that would do for the Christian churches would allow them to have more freedom to practice their faith."

However, according to a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released earlier this year, though there had undeniably been “constant improvements” in Turkey, the “present situation concerning press freedom, religious freedom and respect of minority rights is far from perfect.”

Currently, only two EU countries—Austria and Cyprus—are known to oppose starting negotiations with Ankara, but most agree there will be a green light, according to AFP.

The summit draft is due to be discussed by ambassadors from the EU's 25 member states at a regular meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.