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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04BRUSSELS4299 2004-10-06 10:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

EC/TURKEY: A "CLEAR RECOMMENDATION" TO START

Tags:   PREL TU EUN USEU BRUSSELS 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 004299 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2014
TAGS: PREL TU EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: EC/TURKEY: A "CLEAR RECOMMENDATION" TO START
ACCESSION TALKS

REF: A. BRUSSELS 4029


B. PARIS 7178

Classified By: USEU poloff Harry O'Hara, reasons 1.4 b/d



1. (C) Summary: An upbeat Commissioner for Enlargement,
Gunther Verheugen, told Ambassador Schnabel that the European
Commission would make a "clear recommendation" October 6 that
the EU start accession talks with Turkey. Verheugen expressed
appreciation for the US's low-key support for Turkey, concern
over possible French referendum plans on Turkey, and
described a proposed braking mechanism on future enlargement
talks as "window-dressing." The next decision point is the
December 17 European Council, where EU heads of
state/government will decide whether to authorize accession
talks. This decision will be accompanied by a heated,
emotional and highly public debate in EU capitals as well as
Ankara. End Summary

A clear recommendation to start


--------------------------





2. (C) Late October 5, Enlargement Commissioner Verheugen
told Ambassador Schnabel that he plans to publicly recommend
October 6 that Turkey has made sufficient progress on a broad
range of political reforms since 1996 so that the Commission
can recommend that accession negotiations begin. Verheugen
said that he would offer Turkey "a clear decision" with "soft
conditions." Ambassador Schnabel congratulated Verheugen on
this decision, as well as his historic achievements on EU
enlargement in the last five years.

US approach appreciated


--------------------------





3. (C) Verheugen expressed appreciation for the US's
"low-key" approach to Turkey's desire for starting accession
talks with the EU. He said that this had been helpful. Other
Commission officials have also expressed appreciation for the
US diplomatic efforts with Turkey to keep them on track in
the last few weeks as well as keeping US support for Turkey
out of the bilateral US/EU political relationship.
Commission officials describe the last months as a
"rollercoaster" experience (ref a), particularly over recent
flaps over adultery and penal code reforms. Verheugen
characterized this recent period as "difficult."

Concern over France


--------------------------





4. (C) Verheugen said that after October 6, Turkey goes to
the member states. He said that a "comfortable majority" at
the Council level favor starting accession talks with Turkey.
However, Verheugen expressed particular concern with France
-- particularly if the center-right seeks to amend the French
constitution to require that all future EU enlargements be
subject to a referendum (ref b). (Other Commission officials
have voiced concerns about Austria and Slovakia.)

Good for Europe


--------------------------





5. (C) Nonetheless, Verheugen was in a very positive mood.
He said that Turkey has made "revolutionary changes" and the
process of accession talks with the EU will only accelerate
this. He stressed that not only is this positive for Turkey,
but it is also good for Europe.

"Window-dressing"


--------------------------





6. (C) Verheugen acknowledge concerns from other
Commissioners and member-states. For that reason, the
Commission has recommended that they be allowed to adopt a
new "braking mechanism" for all new accession negotiations --
not just for Turkey -- but also for Croatia and any future
invitees. This mechanism would allow the Commission to halt
accession negotiations in the case of back-sliding on human
rights or other commitments. Verheugen described this as a
bit of "window-dressing," because the use of such a brake
would require a majority of member-states to authorize its
use. Another Commission official noted to us that the current
EU Nice Treaty already contains similar mechanisms for
existing EU member states, whose rights can be suspended in
the case of a serious breech of democratic standards.

Looking ahead


--------------------------





7. (C) The Commission will not include a proposal for the
date to begin negotiations; that will be left to the December
17 European Council. Assuming a positive vote, Verheugen
anticipates a ceremony sometime in January 2005 where a time
for talks will be announced, and that accession talks would
also start in 2005 (preferably after France sorts out its
referendum concerns).
Schnabel