France pledges not to snag Turkey's EU accession talks
A senior French official says France will not seek to break up Turkey’s negotiation process of entering the EU.7 May 2008
ANKARA - A senior French official pledged Tuesday that his country would not seek to block Turkey's European Union accession talks when it takes over the bloc's presidency in July.
"France has no intention of breaking up Turkey's negotiation process," French Secretary of State for European Affairs Jean-Pierre Jouyet told reporters after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.
"The French presidency will be impartial, fair and objective," he added.
French President Nicolas Sarkosy is a vocal opponent of Turkey's membership bid, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong to Europe.
French objections have previously contributed to slowing down the talks.
"We expect our accession process to continue normally, without problems, during the French presidency... We expect concrete progress," Babacan told a joint press conference.
France will take over the EU presidency from Slovenia on 1 July for six months.
Turkey has so far opened accession talks in only six of the 35 policy areas candidates are required to complete amid a trade row over Cyprus and strong opposition to its membership in several other EU countries.
Jouyet was in Ankara as part of a delegation of senior EU officials for talks on Turkey's membership bid held twice a year.
He also sought to assure Turkey that a plan, spearheaded by France, to establish a Mediterranean Union was not a "trap" to delude the country's EU membership prospect.
Ankara has not yet decided whether to participate in the project, Babacan said.
The project is to be officially launched at a summit of European and Mediterranean leaders in Paris in July.
[AFP / Expatica]