|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.42, 15.11.01, p6|
Cautious optimism is being expressed in Brussels that joint efforts by diplomats from both sides of the Altantic will succeed in persuading Turkey to lift its objections to the use of NATO assets by the Union's rapid reaction force (RRF) before next month's summit of EU leaders at Laeken, Belgium.
Representatives of the UK and the US are hoping that their dialogue with Turkish counterparts will lead them to clinch a breakthrough deal in the next few weeks. "There's no resolution of the Turkish question on the immediate horizon," commented one official. "But talks are continuing, very much away from the public eye."
It was a view echoed at this week's Euromil conference by EU military staff chief Lieutenant General Rainer Schuwirth, but he said he could not forecast when the issue would be settled. Talks between Turkey, the US and UK almost broke the impasse before June's Göteborg summit. On that occasion Ankara came close to accepting a paper, drafted mainly by British officials, which proposed that it would be routinely consulted about the activities of the 60,000- strong force but could not veto any of its operations.
Turkey, a long-standing NATO member, is adamant that it must have a direct say in the RRF because it is located in a region of deep instability. This was graphically illustrated in the past fortnight when Ankara angered the EU by threatening to annex northern Cyprus if the island joins the Union without a settlement of the dispute between its Greek and Turkish communities.
Belgium is eager that it should be able to declare the RRF 'operational' at Laeken, the last major event during its six-month stint at the EU's helm. Given that the force wishes to have access to NATO military hardware, such a declaration could not credibly be made unless an agreement with Turkey can be thrashed out.
Cautious optimism is being expressed in Brussels that joint efforts by diplomats from both sides of the Atlantic will succeed in persuading Turkey to lift its objections to the use of NATO assets by the Union's rapid reaction force (RRF) before the summit of EU leaders at Laeken in December 2001.
|Subject Categories||Security and Defence|
|Countries / Regions||Turkey|