gogu 04 Oct 2005 EU opens historic accession talks with Turkey EUOBSERVER/ LUXEMBOURG - The EU agreed to open accession talks with Turkey late on Monday (3 October) evening on what was termed a "truly historic day" by UK foreign secretary Jack Straw. A visibly relieved Mr Straw announced the deal on the negotiating framework at a foreign ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, stating "I am very pleased that we have reached agreement". He added that the discussions had been "gruelling". The British minister said he hoped talks could formally start "before midnight" as Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul sped toward Luxembourg by plane for the ceremony. European enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn praised the "marvellous effort" of the UK presidency that successfully steered the difficult talks between member states on the one hand and Ankara on the other. Mr Rehn joked that the more than 30 hours of almost non-stop discussions had put everyone's "absorption capacity" to the test - referring to a key clause in the negotiating framework on the EU's capacity to welcome new members. Following intense Austrian pressure, the issue of the EU's absorption capacity has been further highlighted in the negotiation principles as one condition for Turkey to eventually enter the EU. But Vienna's attempt to take out the term "accession" as the goal of the negotiations failed. "The shared objective of the negotiations is accession", the text clearly states, despite Austria's campaign for the document to stipulate a looser partnerhip as an alternative outcome. Meanwhile, Cyprus secured a clause stating that Turkey should align its policies regarding international organisations towards that of the EU "including in relation to the membership by all EU member states of those organisations". The clause effectively obliges Turkey to stop blocking Cypriot membership of international bodies. All in all, member states secured a considerable toughening-up of the negotiation framework, but Turkey managed to hold on to the substance of the text, being a clear roadmap to future EU membership. Ties since 1963 The UK presidency will welcome Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul when he lands in Luxembourg on Monday night, having prepared an opening statement for the offical launch of the accession conference. The statement recalls the close ties between Ankara and Brussels since 1963 when Turkey first signed a customs agreement with the then European Community. EU leaders in Helsinki formally declared Turkey a candidate state in 1999. Mr Straw said Turkey would face a "long road ahead" towards membership however, with the accession talks expected to last at least ten years.