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Armenia Patriarch says Turkish EU Bid Critical

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2005.09.30 AP: Armenia Patriarch: Turkish EU Bid Critical By LOUIS MEIXLER The Associated Press ANKARA, Turkey - The head of the Armenian church in Turkey
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2005
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      2005.09.30 AP: Armenia Patriarch: Turkish EU Bid Critical

      By LOUIS MEIXLER
      The Associated Press

      ANKARA, Turkey - The head of the Armenian church in Turkey warned
      European leaders that postponing Turkey's bid for EU membership could
      undermine efforts to bring together the Muslim East and the Christian
      West.

      Turkey has worked hard to implement criteria required by the European
      Union and has "been steered toward real change on the democratic
      road," the leader of the largest non-Muslim group in Turkey,
      Patriarch Mesrob II of the Armenian church, wrote in a letter
      released Friday.

      "However, because of oppositionist and suspicious attitudes directed
      toward Turkey, it seems as though it is being forced to take backward
      steps and turn in on itself," he wrote.

      The Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world's 200 million
      Orthodox Christians also released a statement in support of Turkey's
      bid to join the 25-nation European Union amid growing frustration
      over delays in membership talks.

      Turkish nationalists planned a rally in Ankara on Sunday, the same
      day EU foreign ministers were to hold an emergency meeting in
      Luxembourg aimed at overcoming Austrian objections to starting entry
      talks with the poor, predominantly Muslim nation.

      Austria's insistence that Turkey be offered the option of a lesser
      partnership with the EU have thrown plans to begin formal entry
      negotiations on Monday into disarray.

      Turkey has threatened not to attend the talks unless it is satisfied
      the EU will offer nothing less than full membership.

      Minorities in Turkey have strongly supported the country's EU bid in
      the hopes it will lead to greater democratic reforms and freedoms.
      Turkey already has enacted sweeping changes aimed at gaining EU
      membership, such as abolishing the death penalty and passing laws
      that improve democracy.

      Mesrob urged EU leaders not to postpone Turkey's quest for
      membership. There are fears that if the EU bid collapses, nationalism
      in Turkey will rise.

      "Such undesired developments will be a blow not only to Turkey and
      Europe but to reconciliation between East and West," he wrote in the
      letter, which was sent to EU foreign ministers ahead of their Sunday
      meeting.

      Armenian Christians, numbering 70,000, belong to the remnants of a
      community largely destroyed by deportations and massacres at the time
      of World War I.

      Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of Orthodox
      Christianity, said in his statement that "Turkey definitely has the
      right to be part of this union."

      The patriarchate dates back to the Orthodox Greek Byzantine Empire,
      which ruled the region from Constantinople, now called Istanbul.

      European opposition to Turkey's membership bid is increasingly
      leading Turks to question their decades-long dream of being the only
      predominantly Muslim country to enter the union.

      "Some circles in the EU are anxious to anger and humiliate Turkey as
      much as possible so that the indignant Turkish nation simply forces
      its government to scrap the EU dream," chief columnist Ilnur Cevik
      wrote in The New Anatolian.

      Columnist Hasan Cemal was more blunt.

      "There is no end to the dynamite being thrown" on the EU path, he
      wrote in the Milliyet newspaper. "They think that Turkish public
      opinion is a stone of patience. It isn't."


      September 30, 2005 5:05 PM
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