Democracy will have a different meaning? What meaning has it had up to now? Human rights and freedoms will be practiced better? Keep practicing, Erdogan, and someday you may get it right. From AP, with thanks to Anthony:
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – Thousands of cheering supporters showered Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with ticker tape Saturday as he returned to Ankara from a European summit, vowing to press forward with reforms and the country’s bid to join the bloc.
The European Union on Friday offered to begin talks aimed at bringing Turkey into the EU. The long-coveted invitation came despite widespread European misgivings about welcoming a poor, highly populated Muslim nation – and despite continued differences over Cyprus, Turkey’s longtime adversary and an EU member since May.
The talks will begin Oct. 3, 2005, the beginning of a process that could take years and could transform the political and social landscape of both parties.
But joyous supporters presented Erdogan with flowers at Ankara’s Esenboga airport, and some 5,000 gathered in near-freezing weather to greet Erdogan in the city’s central square.
“Turkey has turned the critical corner,” Erdogan told the crowd, which waved flags and balloons with Turkish and EU flags. “Our road is open, you should not have any doubt about it.”
“From now on, democracy will have a different meaning and human rights and freedoms will be practiced in a more meaningful manner, the economy will perform better,” Erdogan said. “By this, Turkey will take its rightful place among modern and civilized countries.”…
EU leaders have imposed tough conditions on Turkish membership. Turkey must recognize Cyprus before the talks open in October and must show progress on Kurdish rights, improving the economy and limiting the military’s influence in politics. Ankara is also expected to treat ethnic and religious minorities equally….
The deal nearly fell apart because of an EU requirement that Turkey initial an agreement Friday expanding its customs union with the EU to include Cyprus and nine other members that joined in May. The agreement would have to be signed by October.
Erdogan balked at the requirement, which EU diplomats said amounted to tacit recognition of the Greek Cypriot government. After hours of negotiations, the EU agreed to accept a statement from Erdogan that he would sign the customs agreement before the talks start and that the move would not constitute recognition of Cyprus.
Much of the Greek Cypriot press criticized the EU decision.
Cyprus was “the greatest loser” declared the top-circulation Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros on Saturday.
The EU “surrendered to Ankara’s terms yielding to the blackmail of Erdogan,” declared the right-wing Simerini newspaper.