Turkish PM calls for French support on EU bid

20th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, Oct 19 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged France to back his country's drive to begin membership talks with the European Union as he flew off to Paris for two days of talks.

ANKARA, Oct 19 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged France to back his country's drive to begin membership talks with the European Union as he flew off to Paris for two days of talks.

"It is very important for us that France gives us the necessary support in the run-up to" the December 17 summit when EU leaders will decide whether to invite Turkey to start talks on accession, he told reporters before he left.

Erdogan praised France as a country which has "close and friendly ties with Turkey" and which supported Ankara on several important milestones in its drive to become a member of the pan-European bloc.

"I believe France will not withhold its traditional support on the issue of taking a decision to start membership talks," he added.

The European Commission, the EU's executive branch, said earlier this month that Turkey had fulfilled the required democracy norms and recommended the start of talks.

But allowing Turkey into the European Union has raised doubts in parts of Europe, including France, where the leadership is split on the issue and opinion polls show strong public opposition to Ankara's membership.

Erdogan is expected to meet French businessmen, the secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and civic society representatives before flying home on Thursday.

His visit comes as part of a Europe-wide tour Turkish leaders have launched in a bid to drum up support for their EU aspirations.

During the talks, Turkish leaders are also aiming to raise Turkish concerns over several points in the Commission report which Ankara is unsatisfied with.

The Commission said the start of accession talks with Turkey would not amount to a guarantee that it would one day join the EU, and mentioned the possibility of imposing restrictions on the free movement of Turkish nationals in the bloc.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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