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EC Says No to Turkish Membership

December 18, 1989

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Community’s executive body today said Turkey should not be allowed to join the trading bloc in the near future, saying it must improve its economy and human rights record.

″It is impossible to begin immediate (membership) negotiations,″ with Turkey, said Abel Matutes, the EC’s commissioner for Mediterranean policy. Negotiations could not begin before 1993, he added.

But the Commission recommended strengthening cooperation between the 12- nation trade bloc and Turkey in the next few years to pave the way for eventual membership.

The EC’s executive body has been considering the economic and political implications of Turkish membership since Ankara officially applied to join the Community on April 14, 1987.

Under EC rules, the commission must give its opinion on membership applications, but a final decision is up to the 12 member states’ governments and the European Parliament. At any rate, no new members can join until 1993 when the EC should have a Single Market.

Austria is the only other country to have made an official membership request.

Matutes said today’s decision did not question ″the principle of Turkey’s eligibility for membership of the Community,″ sometime in the future.

He said the Commission reached its decision after an exhaustive survey of Turkey’s economic and political situation, undertaken with the help of the Turkish government.

He said the Commission had also looked at the effects of Turkish membership in the context of developments within the EC, which is working to abolish its internal barriers to the free movement of trade, services, capital and people by the end of 1992 - the so-called Single Market.

″Between now and 1993 we must concentrate all our efforts on achieving the Single Market,″ Matutes said.

Although the Turkish economy had made ″really remarkable and encouraging progress ... there are still disparities and problems which we cannot ignore,″ he said.

The commissioner said that on average Turkish economic development was only one-third of the EC average.

″Unemployment is high, ... social security is low and is far from the norms current in the Community. Inflation remains a sharp problem,″ he said.

Although Turkey is a parliamentary democracy, Matutes said, there are still areas ″notably in the trade unions sector, human rights and respect for minorities,″ where ″progress is necessary.″

Turkey was under military rule from 1980 to 1983.

In addition to the human rights and trade unions problems, Matutes said the Commission was concerned about Turkey’s relationship with Greece.

The two Mediterranean neighbors have long been at odds over Cyprus and mineral rights in the Aegean Sea. They almost went to war over the latter issue in early 1987.

Greece said it would oppose Turkish membership in the trading bloc for as long as Turkey maintained 30,000 troops on Cyprus. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, saying it had to protect the island’s Turkish Cypriot minority after a coup by pro-Greek elements.

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