According to Turkey's Foreign Ministry Turkey has rejected proposed changes to its framework agreement with the EU, deepening a crisis as EU leaders tried to overcome a deadlock over starting European Union entry talks.
Accession talks are scheduled to open later Monday, but Austria has insisted that Turkey is offered a partnership if full membership talks do not work out. Turkey has said it will only accept full membership talks. Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said that ''the EU has proposed some changes to the framework document. Our minister has rejected them all.'' Officials have said that Turkey's delegation to open EU accession talks, which is to be led by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, will not depart from Turkey until the minister has seen and approved the EU accession framework that lays out the plans for negotiations. EU foreign ministers were meeting in Luxembourg to try and resolve the crisis. Failure to start the negotiations Monday would be a serious blow to the credibility of the EU, which promised in December to open the talks. While many EU countries are reticent to accept the huge, overwhelmingly Muslim nation, Turkish officials have emphasized how accepting Turkey would help ease tensions between the Muslim East and the Christian West. Turkish officials were preparing for the possibility that negotiations would not begin as planned. Backed by funds from the International Monetary Fund, Turkey has been carrying out structural economic reforms and has been recovering from a serious financial crisis it experienced in 2001. ''Today, our economy is not one that is easily susceptible,'' Babacan said. ''In short, Turkey is not the old Turkey.'' Turkish newspapers on Monday expressed frustration over Austria's position. ''Will Oct. 3 go down in history as the day when Turkey and the EU started negotiations or the day when the meeting of civilizations was dealt a severe blow,'' questioned Milliyet newspaper. A TNS-PIAR poll published in Sabah newspaper Monday showed that 49 percent of Turks believe Turkey should reject an offer of a privileged partnership. EU support was still strong, with 60 percent of Turks saying they favor EU membership. The polls was conducted of 1,420 people. No margin of error was given, The International Herald Tribune reports.
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