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Turkey Still Positive Despite EC Rebuff

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THE ``gentle'' rebuff by the European Community to a 32-month-old Turkish application for full membership has not changed most Turks' belief that their place is in Europe and in the Community. There is a wide consensus among official and nonofficial circles here that the EC's stand, announced last week, should not discourage Turkey from pursuing efforts to become part of the Community. In fact, they say, Turkey's role may become more important as change sweeps across the European continent.

The European Commission in Brussels has decided that negotiations on Turkey's membership in the European Community should not start before 1993. The commission cited the incompatibility of Turkey's present economic, political, and social conditions with the EC standards and the EC's internal problems regarding the integration goals set for 1992.

The report advises that, in the meantime, the EC and Turkey develop economic ties through the existing association treaty. It also reaffirms Turkey's right of ``eligibility to become a member'' of the Community. The Council of Ministers will discuss the Commission's recommendations in the spring and make a final decision late in 1990.

In Turkey, reaction to the EC response has been moderate, in part because of the report's conciliatory wording. President Turgut Ozal, the driving force behind Turkey's bid for EC membership, pointed out that Turkey was ``recognized as a European country'' and that its ``right for membership was confirmed.''

Ali Bozer, the minister of state in charge of European affairs emphasized that the ``doors have not been closed'' and that Turkey now waits on the Council of Ministers' decision to set the date for negotiations.


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