European Union discussions on how the EU will ask Turkey to proceed during its accession negotiations have reached their most delicate, intensive and crucial phase. What is certain is that the European leaders will not refuse to give Ankara a starting date for the talks; all that is pending is whether the date will be in the first or second half of 2005. With just 11 days left till the summit meeting where the decision will be reached, the EU’s tendency with regard to the terms and conditions they will set for Turkey on its progress toward Europe is gradually becoming clear. Sources say the main issue is to guarantee just but strict monitoring of Ankara’s progress. The monitoring mechanism will be both ongoing and detailed so as to rule out any development that is unfavorable to the principles and operation of the EU. Many ‘small vetoes’ Europe seems to be in agreement with Greece’s strategic decision which, as described by Kathimerini in the past, does not focus on one veto concerning the date but on «many small vetoes» throughout the negotiations, so as to ensure that Turkey joins the EU without deviations. Regardless of the terminology, the conditions imposed would mean that Turkey would not be a de facto full member of the EU but a state with a privileged relation to the EU. In this new context, Athens has something to offer the changed European outlook: a new, revised text that asks for the summit’s conclusions to include regular monitoring of Turkey to verify its compliance with the terms imposed. And it wants to record the extent to which Ankara respects the principles of good neighborliness and refrains from threats and military activities that provoke tension (such as air space violations, casus belli and denial of national sovereignty). Athens seems to have freed itself from the trap of suffocating prearranged schedules – either involving a Greek veto, should Ankara remain intransigent to the last whatever consequences that may have for Turkey’s behavior toward Greece, or for the appearance on the EU negotiating table of something like the Annan plan for Cyprus on «related issues» that is tailored to be acceptable to the Turkish leadership and would put the Greek government in a very difficult position. Instead of that, the Greek side seems ready to take up a position among those judging Turkey’s path toward Europe. «On December 17, if the European Council decides to start negotiations it won’t be cutting a ribbon. It will be like the opening shot in a long-distance trial of stamina. That is the event which starts on December 17,» commented Foreign Ministry official G. Koumoutsakos. «To complete such a race there are two conditions: The competitor must be physically capable of completing it, and during the race he must respect all the rules governing the event, and of course the basic principle of fair competition. Otherwise, the judges will disqualify him. In this procedure, Greece and Cyprus will be among the 25 judges.» New Trojan horses Athens’s guarded optimism that matters will change once Turkey begins its path to Europe is based on the Trojan horse rationale. It is thought that Ankara will become aware of factors it cannot presently see, and it will have to compromise and obey European rules, such as: * Conceding some national sovereignty to the EU; * Adopting a policy of cooperating with and accepting mutually agreed terms, and relinquishing tactics of hostility and opposition; * Giving absolute respect for human rights and religious freedom; and * Planning and implementing a policy that is not based on military might but on harmonious cooperation and economic power (the clout of EU members is not judged on geopolitical but on geo-economic terms). «After at least a decade of change, adaptation, monitoring and transformation, such a truly European Turkey, which is completely different from Turkey today, will not be the troublemaker of the region or a threat to its neighbors,» commented one senior Greek diplomat.