NEWS

Turkey signals deal on EU force

Turkey signaled yesterday that it was ready to strike a deal with the European Union over the bloc’s efforts to create a European defense force, following an unscheduled summit of the country’s military and political leaders chaired by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. A deal would allow Turkey, which is not an EU member, to have a say in military decisions involving the use of NATO facilities. Turkey’s private NTV television channel reported that Ankara had accepted an EU promise that the force would not be involved in disputes between NATO members and that Turkey would be involved in decision-making if the European force took on a mission in a nearby region. NTV said also that Turkey had withdrawn its claim to have a say in all of the army’s operations and that the force would not enjoy automatic access to NATO facilities. Greece has warned it will veto any decision leaving Cyprus and the Aegean Sea out of the area of operations. «Our justified expectations have been met to a great extent. It wouldn’t be right to give details at this time,» Ecevit said after the meeting. US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is due in Ankara tomorrow, is expected to discuss the issue with Turkish officials, in addition to Cyprus. Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, visiting Athens on Saturday, said: «Even if Turkey continues to put up obstacles… we will still declare the force operational at Laeken,» on December 14-15. «If that happens, the declaration… will be one of cooperation with NATO on a case-by-case basis.» As Nikos Constantopoulos, leader of the Left Coalition party and a leading lawyer, notes: «There is no division of powers, but a confusion of powers, since political power has always tried to subjugate the judiciary.»