"Yes, if": Villepin to Turkey on EU membership

5th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Sept 4 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin backed Sunday the start of moves to admit Turkey into the European Union, provided Ankara gave the guarantees over Cyprus for which it had been asked.

PARIS, Sept 4 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin backed Sunday the start of moves to admit Turkey into the European Union, provided Ankara gave the guarantees over Cyprus for which it had been asked.

"What I want is for Turkey to commit itself as strongly as possible, as quickly as possible to the road to recognising Cyprus," he said in a television interview.

EU leaders gave Turkey a green light last December to start EU membership negotiations despite its refusal formally to recognize the government of member state Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974 when the Turkish military occupied the northern third of the island.

And Ankara fueled fresh concern after it appended a declaration to its signature of an amended customs accord with the enlarged EU in July, the so-called Ankara Protocol, repeating that it still does not recognize Cyprus.

"It seems to me essential that any state starting on a process of joining (the EU) should have a calm and peaceful relationship with the whole of Europe," de Villepin said.

Turkish membership is opposed by many in the EU and within France but de Villepin said "we cannot just brush aside the candidacy of Turkey", said de Villepin.

"I am in favour of the membership process getting under way just as soon as we have the guarantees we are asking for. I am of course in favour of the whole sovereignty over this issue being submitted to the French people," de Villepin added.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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