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EU Summit To Discuss Turkish Membership

16 December 2004 -- Whether to open membership talks with Turkey will top the agenda of a two-day European Union summit opening today in Brussels.

Yesterday, the European Parliament voted in favor of opening accession talks with the overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

In a nonbinding resolution, the parliament also called for close monitoring of Turkey's progress in improving human rights, religious freedom and women's rights. It said talks should be suspended at any time if Ankara wavers in these areas.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who will host the summit -- the Netherlands currently holds the EU's rotating presidency -- said he wants a unanimous decision from the leaders of the 25 member states.

French President Jacques Chirac said yesterday that Turkey's entry into the EU would be in the best interests of France, and of Europe.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Turkey would not accept what he called "unacceptable conditions" for EU membership.