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Turkey Stands Firm on Full Membership in EU Negotiation Talks

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed Monday Turkey would not accept anything less than full membership of the European Union and that he was not "bluffing." Mr. Erdogan's comments came as European Union Foreign ministers in Luxembourg kept up efforts to agree on a framework for Turkey to begin membership talks later in the day.

Speaking at a congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party, Mr. Erdogan stressed the European Union needed Turkey at least as much as Turkey needed the European Union. If the EU wanted to become a global player and to avert a clash of civilizations it would need to open its doors to Turkey, he said.

Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly stressed that Turkey will continue to implement democratic reforms "with or without the European Union."

As Mr. Erdogan made his remarks, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Namik Tan told reporters in Ankara that Turkey had rejected all the proposed changes made so far to the text of the EU's so-called negotiating framework document.

The document is a road map for Turkey's accession talks with the Union. Austria has been battling to include wording in that document that would make room for a so called privileged partnership with Turkey as opposed to full membership. Turkey says it cannot accept anything less than full membership.

Analysts say that Austria is not the only problem. Differences over Cyprus are also being cited by Turkish officials as a major stumbling block. Turkey refuses to recognize the Greek Cypriot government as the legitimate representative of the divided Mediterranean island and continues to deny access to Greek Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft although Cyprus joined the EU last year.