Turkish PM to visit Franceahead of EU entry decision

7th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

ANKARA, July 7 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit France later this month for key talks on his country's bid to join the European Union, which has opened cracks in the French leadership, Turkish diplomats said Wednesday.

ANKARA, July 7 (AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit France later this month for key talks on his country's bid to join the European Union, which has opened cracks in the French leadership, Turkish diplomats said Wednesday.

During his July 19-21 visit, Erdogan is scheduled to meet French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

"We place great importance on this visit to an important member of the European Union. It is significant for us that it will take place ahead of the Commission's report and the EU's December summit," a senior diplomat said.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, will in October release a crucial report on Turkey's democratization progress.

On the basis of that report EU leaders will decide in December whether to formally open membership talks with the Muslim nation.

Chirac's centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) opposes Turkish entry into the EU.

The French president himself has said he favors Ankara's eventual accession to the 25-nation bloc but maintains Turkey is not yet ready to join.

A recent opinion poll showed 61 percent of French people were against Turkey becoming an EU member.

Since it came to power in November 2002, Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has passed far-reaching political reforms to enable Turkey to catch up with EU norms.

Ankara says it is now ready to start accession talks.

Turkey, a formal candidate to join the EU since 1999, is the only aspirant that has so far been denied a seat at the negotiating table.

Two other candidates, Bulgaria and Romania, are set to join in 2007.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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