Will Turkey become ‘market economy’?

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Turkey is set to learn today if the European Union has granted it the much-coveted «market economy» status in an annual report on its progress barely a month after it started EU entry talks. While its value is mainly symbolic, such status is a prerequisite for joining the 25-member EU and would also boost confidence in the Turkish economy, bringing greater stability and a better climate for foreign investors. It would also allow Ankara to begin harmonizing its laws in some of the 35 chapters of EU legislation it must integrate to join. «One of the most sensitive issues of the report is the status of a functioning market economy,» an EU official said on condition of anonymity, declining to speculate on what the outcome would be. The report will pull no punches on the huge challenges facing Ankara. «There is a lot to do, and… the last year has not been one in which Turkey has covered themselves in glory,» one EU diplomat predicted it would say. He declined to speculate about market economy status being granted. Another said the report would note a drop in the pace of reforms over the last year, but added that Turkey might be deemed to have market status. He said the issue of EU member Cyprus, where the Greek-Cypriot government has not been recognized by Ankara since the Turkish army invaded the northern third of the island in 1974, would also be brought up in the text. Turkey began membership talks with the EU on October 4 and is expected to spend at least the next decade trying to join, with no guarantee of success. Its annual report will be accompanied by the release of accession partnership documents that are a kind of roadmap for reform identifying short- and medium-term priorities, the EU official said. A report is also scheduled to be released on Croatia, which began membership talks alongside Turkey on October 4.

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