EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen has concluded talks with the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by announcing that he sees no further obstacles to commencing detailed negotiations for Turkey to enter the European Union. A formal report by the European Commission on the way ahead is expected to be published on 6th October.
Whilst I am in general very much in favour of Turkey joining the EU, there were quite obviously worries that recent moves in Turkey to introduce a reformed penal code would jeopardise fatally any possibility that full EU membership for Turkey could happen. A particuarly contentious issue was the effort, by some hard-line "Islamists" within the ruling Party, to introduce a clause outlawing adultery.
The Turkish Prime Minister last week complained that the EU was 'interfering' in Turkey's internal affairs, but he has now apparently confirmed that the clause will not be included in the legislation. However, I would make the point that if Turkey did include such a clause in its new legislation, it would be impossible for Turkey to join the EU. This is not 'interference', simply a clear statement that applicants to join the EU 'club' must abide by certain minimum standards and that failure to do so makes membership out of the question. However, this scenario seems thankfully to be fading. Read the EU's country profile on Turkey here.