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Turkey and The European Union

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

The European Union will open membership talks with Turkey in October 2005. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the U.S. welcomes the decision:

"We congratulate both the European Union and Turkey. . . . [These] positive decisions reflect Turkey's impressive reform accomplishments and are a great success for both Turkey and the European Union."

Since starting out to qualify for eventual European Union membership, Turkey has adopted reforms aimed at expanding human rights, including the rights of ethnic minorities, and at reducing the role of the military in the political system. Additional human rights reforms, as well as economic reforms, are expected as Turkey's E-U membership negotiations proceed in the coming years. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, head of the European Commission, is optimistic that Turkey will demonstrate its commitment to upholding values common to E-U members:

"I genuinely believe that we have a decision today that is good for Turkey and good for the European Union. It responds to the needs of both sides and allows us to go ahead. This is a day on which the people of Turkey should rejoice on their new European future. But as we stand at the historic crossroads for Turkey and the European Union, my message to the people of Turkey is very clear: this is not the end of the process. This is the beginning."

The U.S. strongly supports Turkey's bid to join the European Union. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "The Turkish people have much to look forward to. A Turkey that is firmly anchored in Europe and sharing European values will be a positive force for prosperity and democracy."