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EU Negotiates Terms With Applicants

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Some candidates seeking to join the European Union failed to accept an EU aid offer of billion Monday, threatening to turn this week\'s summit from a historical opening to 10 new members into a last-ditch haggling session.

\"The financial issues will not be able to be closed here\" at a meeting of EU foreign ministers with their counterparts from the candidate nations, said Samuel Magid, a spokesman for the EU presidency.

The amount of subsidies incoming farmers from the poorer nations should get continued to prevent finalizing deals with many of the candidates.

Diplomats say six out of the 10 were on the point of accepting the billion aid offer over three years. However, several candidates, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Malta, were holding out for better terms.

Magid said EU negotiators had strongly urged the candidates to accept the aid package, which was sweetened last week by an additional 0 million.

The two-day summit, slated to celebrate the expansion of the EU, will open in the Danish capital of Copenhagen on Thursday.

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, which holds the EU presidency, has cautioned all the candidates that there will be no more money and that they risk years of delay in joining if they fail to strike a deal this week.

The eastern European nations are angry that their farmers won\'t get as much aid as their richer western neighbors until 2013. They also want fewer restrictions on farm production and more regional aid overall.

\"We have come here to get better terms, not to clinch a deal,\" said one Polish diplomat.

Overall, Denmark has now offered .6 billion in extra aid in their offer. That has annoyed Germany, France and the Netherlands, who say the Danes are being too generous.

EU foreign ministers are also supposed to address the touchy issue of giving Turkey a date to start its own membership talks.

Turkey\'s new government has lobbied the EU hard to secure support for its bid to open negotiations, but has criticized a proposal to start talks in 2005 as too late. European Union officials say Turkey hasn\'t implemented enough reforms, particularly in human rights and the military.

The leader of Turkey\'s ruling party said Monday that the European Union is applying a double standard for admitting new members.

\"We see there are certain countries that have gotten dates before all the criteria have been fulfilled,\" said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads Turkey\'s governing Justice and Development Party.

He mentioned Latvia, where ethnic Russians make up about 40 percent of the population but accuse the government of pervasive discrimination. More than half have no citizenship because of laws requiring that citizens speak Latvian.

Turkish trade organizations took out a bid ad in Monday\'s Financial Times under the headline \"The only way to have a friend, is to be one.\"

EU negotiators had wanted entry talks with the 10 to be finalized before the two-day EU summit, but negotiations will likely go down to the wire there.

The summit is supposed to issue invitations to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malta and Cyprus to join in 2004, ending most of Europe\'s Cold War divisions.


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