On the eve of a crucial summit that may determine the outcome of Turkey's 41-year campaign for European Union membership, Brussels has mulled fresh conditions for Ankara to meet before accession talks could begin.
An omission from Armenia's draft 2005 budget has touched off speculation that a rapprochement with Turkey may be in the offing. The missing line item concerns Yerevan's long-standing effort to win international recognition for what Armenian officials portray as the genocide of 1915-16. Some observers interpret the dropped genocide reference as an effort to extend an olive branch to Turkey.
In the wake of a European Commission report on Turkey's EU accession drive, debate is sharpening in some member states on the impact of blending a secular Islamic state into the mainly Christian fabric of the organization. In Turkey, meanwhile, reaction to the report has been mixed.
The European Commission, in a report issued October 6, expressed a "qualified yes" to Turkey's desire to join the European Union. Though it marks a major step forward for Ankara's EU membership drive, the commission's go-ahead comes with conditions attached, leaving open the possibility that Turkey's accession efforts will ultimately be rebuffed.
Some form of go-ahead in the coming days by the European Commission for Turkish entry talks now appears a foregone conclusion.
However, two draft progress reports prepared by the European Commission suggest that uncertainties abound, and that any decision is likely to come with extensive conditions and qualifications attached to allow more skeptical member states to support it.
Turkey boosted its chances of joining the European Union by recently overhauling its criminal code. The Turkish parliament might never have gotten the opportunity to vote on the reform package, however, had it not been for quiet changes taking place within Turkey's military hierarchy.
The passage of sweeping penal reforms this Sunday has eliminated a sizeable roadblock in Turkey's European Union membership bid. Yet despite the reforms much lauded by EU officials debate still rages within Europe over Turkey's suitability to join the EU.