Turkey will weigh deal on Euroforce

Efforts to end a deadlock over the EU’s nascent defense force were held up yesterday after Ankara objected to a compromise agreed on by EU members, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday at the EU summit in Seville. The 15 EU leaders are to discuss the issue again today, and if Turkey, which is a member of NATO but not of the EU, still does not agree, then the EU will move ahead with the ad hoc deployment of peacekeepers in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, was to discuss the issue last night with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem. «The negotiations we had with the Spanish presidency reached a solution which was satisfactory for us, I would say very satisfactory,» Simitis told reporters. «But this result has not been agreed to by Turkey and therefore this agreement of sorts, if I may call it that, between the EU and NATO cannot be concluded.» The EU proposal provides for a slight amendment to the second paragraph of the text agreed on by US, British and Turkish officials giving Ankara a say in the operations of the EU’s rapid reaction force in exchange for allowing it to use NATO assets. Athens wants the text to provide an assurance that no NATO member will be able to attack an EU member. The EU proposal also provides for the inclusion of a paragraph in the conclusions of the Seville summit making it clear that the European force’s decisions will be taken only by EU members. The EU’s security chief, Javier Solana, informed Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday that Turkey did not agree to the solution being promoted by Athens and the Spanish EU presidency. The proposal was for the conclusions of the summit to overrule paragraphs 9, 12 and 15 of the Ankara text with the declaration that «we reaffirm that the participation of a NATO member in negotiations with the EU or in cooperation with the EU will in no way undermine the community’s autonomous decision-making nor be opposed to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member states.»

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