Turkey upbeat on EU despite French resistance

29th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, Sept 29 (AFP) - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was hopeful Wednesday that Turkey would be given the green light to join the European Union, playing down objections to his country's accession bid, particularly in France.

ANKARA, Sept 29 (AFP) - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul was hopeful Wednesday that Turkey would be given the green light to join the European Union, playing down objections to his country's accession bid, particularly in France.  

Asked whether he was irked by calls in France for a referendum on Turkey's membership, Gul said: "No, not at all. Europe is a pluralist society and people can have different opinions."  

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Tuesday he was in favour of a referendum on Turkey joining the EU "when the matter comes up."  

French Economy Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Michel Barnier have said they want to see a referendum to resolve a dispute in France on whether Turkey should be allowed into the EU.  

Gul, however, underscored that membership to the pan-European bloc was tied to clearly defined criteria and procedures.  

"We will confidently continue to do what is up to us. And the EU will definitely do what is up to them in the best way. We have no doubts on that," he told reporters.  

The European Commission is set to release a crucial report on Turkey's democratization progress on October 6, which will form the basis for a December 17 decision by EU leaders on whether to invite Ankara to start accession talks.  

Gul recalled a decision by EU leaders from their 2002 Copenhagen summit, which said that accession talks with Turkey would start "without delay" once the country fulfils the basic EU political norms.  

"We have fulfilled the criteria. And these criteria are the only condition for the start of accession talks," he said.  

The expression "without delay" means a period measured in "months, not years... six months at most," he said.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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