THE prospects for Turkey's accession to the European Union are not improving. Tomorrow a key European Commission report is expected to give a rather negative account of progress. There are several member states which do not think that Turkey could ever become a full member of the EU; among these are states which still hope to include a reference to Europe's Christian heritage if and when the dormant EU constitution is revived. For the moment, however, the problems are more easily identifiable. Although the Turkish government has worked hard to remove many legal relics of past times, some remain. An example is article 301 of the Turkish penal code against insulting Turkishness which is occasionally used against journalists and authors. But there are a number of other problems in the area of human rights standards for prisoners, ethnic and religious minorities, women and trade unions.
Even if these difficulties could be dealt with there would remain the central problem of relations between Cyprus (already an EU member) and Turkey whose forces invaded and occupied part of that island in 1974. Although a trade agreement between the two sides was reached last year, Turkey has so far failed to implement its provisions which include opening its ports and airports to goods from Cyprus.
If this and other obstacles are not resolved quickly the EU Summit in mid-December might decide to halt negotitations with Turkey altogeher.
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