Oireachtas committee calls on EU to open entry talks with Ankara


EU: An Oireachtas committee has called on EU leaders to open accession negotiations with Turkey but warned that Ankara had a long way to go before fulfilling all the union's membership criteria.

While stating that Turkey's entry would test the EU, the Committee on European Affairs said negotiations should be undertaken "in good faith" with a view to giving full membership to Ankara.

However, it warned that the EU must be prepared to break off the talks if Turkey did not show it was continuing to improve its record on human and social rights.

Noting that Turkey was a poor country of 70 million people, it said the population was young and mobile but not very well educated and might seek to migrate to other parts of the union.

There was no certainty that the newly enlarged EU would have the administrative capacity, political will or a developed "sense of self" to deal with the challenges posed by Turkey's membership.

The committee said regional disparities and its dependence on agriculture would make large demands on EU funding. However, membership could have a positive impact in terms of the EU's relationship with the Islamic world.

"Precisely because of Turkey's geopolitical role, the union will have increased weight on the world stage. The extension of the internal market will bring benefits to all." EU membership would have the advantage of supporting a modern market economy-driven Islamic role model, it said.

"Membership of a secular Islamic country could prove that the union is not just a Judaeo-Christian club and that membership is open to those who meet criteria of human and social rights and not just of history."

The Oireachtas committee, chaired by Mr John Deasy TD, said in its 100-page report it recognised that huge efforts had been made to reform Turkey's judicial and administrative system.

However, it was not convinced that the reforms were irreversible or that all layers of Turkish society were as committed to change as the government.