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 »  Home  »  Politics  »  Croatia Leaps Past Turkey on Road to EU Membership
Croatia Leaps Past Turkey on Road to EU Membership
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/27/2007 | Politics | Unrated
Croatia in the EU by the end of the decade?
Croatia Leaps Past Turkey on Road to EU Membership

By James G. Neuger

 
Olli Rehn, European commissioner for enlargement

June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Croatia leapt past Turkey on the road to European Union membership, opening negotiations in six EU policy areas and staying on course to join as soon as the end of the decade.

Croatia's progress came as the Turkish government started talks in only two areas and was blocked from a third by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, an opponent of Turkey's EU bid.

"We believe that we will be ready in 2009,'' Croatian Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said at a press conference in Brussels today.

After adding 10 countries in 2004 and two more this year, the EU's expansion is shifting into a slower gear, with Croatia and neighboring ex-Yugoslav republics standing better chances to get in than Turkey.

Croatia, with 4.5 million people, would become the second ex-Yugoslav state to join after Slovenia in 2004. Croatia's hopes were buoyed by the EU's June 23 agreement over a new governing treaty, which would replace current laws capping the bloc at 27 countries.

Croatia's timetable depends on the speed of talks and, once they are over, how quickly EU governments ratify the entry accord. Croatia still faces EU calls to overhaul uncompetitive industries such as steel and shipbuilding and step up the fight against corruption.

"The pace and intensity of the negotiating process depends on the pace and intensity of reforms on the ground,'' EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

"Breakthrough"

Would-be members are required to meet EU legal standards in 35 policy areas. Croatia today started talks in six: services, company law, statistics, financial controls, financial services and media.

Talks in four other areas are already under way -- industrial policy, economic and monetary affairs, customs union and intellectual property. Croatia has wrapped up talks in two areas: education and culture, and science and research.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who chaired today's negotiations, spoke of a "genuine breakthrough'' that ``sends the signal that the talks are fully under way and Croatia is on a good path toward Europe.''

Croatia plans to "continue at the same speed and we believe we will maintain the momentum,'' Grabar-Kitarovic said.

Turkey, striving to join the EU since the 1960s, notched a breakthrough with the opening of entry talks in 2005 and has made little headway since then amid rising grass-roots opposition, especially in France.

"European Course"

Only 32 percent of the French favor further EU expansion, according to an EU poll released last week. Anti-Turkish sentiment played a role in France's veto of the EU's constitution in 2005.

Steinmeier appealed for European governments to treat Turkey "fairly," saying "we have no strategic interest in Turkey developing in a different direction. We hope Turkey stays on a European course."

A broader survey by the German Marshall Fund last year showed that only 21 percent of Europeans endorse membership for predominantly Muslim Turkey, home to 72 million people with living standards equal to a quarter of the EU average.

Turkey has completed talks in only one area, science and research. Talks on industrial policy got under way in March and negotiations on financial controls and statistics began today.

France Blocks

France today blocked the start of talks on economic and monetary affairs, which would prepare Turkey to adopt the euro after joining the EU.

Economy Minister Ali Babacan said Turkey is disappointed that the euro negotiations were blocked and scolded the EU for not moving ahead faster with the entry program.

"We are not satisfied with the technical justifications that were given to us,'' Babacan said. He warned that "not only Turkey but also the EU will be damaged'' if the entry process stumbles.

The EU stepped on the brakes last December, freezing eight negotiating areas to protest Turkey's ban on trade with the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus, an EU member since 2004. The EU also won't conclude talks with Turkey in any area as long as the Cyprus dispute goes unresolved.

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-06/26/content_6294761.htm



BRUSSELS, June 26 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) opened here Tuesday negotiations with Croatia on a range of policy areas affecting the ex-Yugoslav country's EU membership bid.

Croatia and the EU launched talks in six fields: services, company law, statistics, financial controls, financial services and media. According to EU rules, would-be members are required to meet EU legal standards in 35 policy areas.

"We believe that we will be ready in 2009," Croatian Foreign Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said at a press conference in Brussels after the opening of the talks.

Croatia, with 4.5 million people, would become the second ex-Yugoslav state to join the EU after Slovenia in 2004. Croatia's hopes were buoyed by the EU's June 23 agreement over a new governing treaty, which would replace current laws capping the bloc at 27 countries.

Croatia's timetable depends on the speed of talks and, once they are over, how quickly EU governments ratify the entry accord. Croatia still faces EU calls to overhaul uncompetitive industries such as steel and shipbuilding and step up the fight against corruption.

"The pace and intensity of the negotiating process depends on the pace and intensity of reforms on the ground," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said.

Talks in four other areas are already under way -- industrial policy, economic and monetary affairs, customs union and intellectual property. Croatia has wrapped up talks in two areas: education and culture, and science and research.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who chaired Tuesday's negotiations, spoke of a "genuine breakthrough" that "sends the signal that the talks are fully under way and Croatia is on a good path toward Europe."


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