Turkey optimistic after French, German talks

27th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, Oct 27 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was upbeat Wednesday over his country's chances of starting membership talks with the European Union after Germany and France gave support to Ankara's bid to become a member of the 25-nation bloc.

ANKARA, Oct 27 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was upbeat Wednesday over his country's chances of starting membership talks with the European Union after Germany and France gave support to Ankara's bid to become a member of the 25-nation bloc.

"We were happy to see their (France and Germany's) positive approach to the issue," Erdogan told reporters here upon his return from Berlin where he held talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.

"Our expectation now is that EU leaders take an unconditional and indiscriminatory decision which paves the way for the negotiation process" at their summit in Brussels on December 17, he added.

He was speaking a day after Schroeder and Chirac announced that they would vote for Ankara to be invited to membership talks at the December summit.

A Europe-wide debate on whether Turkey, a vast Muslim nation with a relatively poor economy, should be allowed into the EU has been raging since October 6 when an official EU report declared the country fit to start membership talks.

Schroeder has emerged as the strongest supporter of Turkey's bid within the bloc. But Chirac has bowed to domestic pressure to hold a referendum on Ankara's accession and warned that Paris could veto membership talks at any time.

"We are both of the opinion that on December 17 it is about a decision that should give Turkey the opportunity to negotiate with the (European) Commission with the explicit aim of Turkey joining the European Union and with no other aim," Schroeder told reporters in Berlin.

The December 17 summit is largely expected to give Turkey the green light to sit down at the negotiating table with the EU, but it is not yet clear when the talks could begin.

Ankara wants to begin negotiations without delay in early 2005, but there are signs that some EU states, including France, want the negotiations postponed into the second half of the year.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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