Ambassadors of the 25 European Union nations met for a second time in four days Thursday to try to overcome differences that threaten to derail next Monday's start of Turkey's EU membership negotiations. Austria is the most ardent opponent of Turkey's membership bid, arguing the country is too big and is not ready to join the EU.
The membership talks will be a milestone for Europe and predominantly Muslim Turkey, which has been knocking on the EU's door since 1963. EU leaders agreed to open accession talks with Ankara last year. Britain, which holds the rotating EU presidency, was chairing the meeting trying to overcome Austrian demands that Turkey be given the option of a lesser partnership rather than full membership, if it cannot live up to EU standards, informs the AP. I.L.