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02 December, 1999
The EU enlargement process must be flexible enough to permit each country to proceed at its own pace, the current Finnish president of the EU Council of Ministers, Tarja Halonen, said yesterday.
Presenting the agenda of the upcoming Helsinki summit, she expressed hope that the EU Council would officially approve Turkey's candidacy, but this did not mean that pre-accession negotiations would start as that country had first to fulfil certain criteria.
Ms Halonen also stressed that the EU considered unacceptable the death sentence passed on Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan.
She reported that the summit participants would also debate the issue of the intergovernmental conference, focusing on the number of Commissioners, the representation of member-states in the Council and changes in the decision-making system.
Other issues to be debated will include crises management, the coordination of economic and policies, employment policies, the information society, and the basic guidelines of the "Millennium declaration" on the basic future challenges for the Union, and the ways it will deal with them.
European Commission President Romano Prodi also expressed the wish that the European Council bestows Turkey the characterization of a candidate country, and that pre-accession negotiations could not start if Turkey did not meet the Copenhagen criteria first.
Source: Athens News Agency