Gates accuses EU of pushing Turkey away from West
The EU's refusal to accept Turkey as a member has partly caused Ankara's foreign policy shift and the deterioration in its relations with Israel, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
Already strained relations between Turkey and Israel plunged following a deadly raid by Israeli commandos on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza, which left nine Turkish activists dead.
The "deterioration" in their ties is "a matter of concern", Gates told reporters in London.
Opposition in some European capitals to Turkey's bid to join the EU had helped push it away from the West, Gates added, saying that "some in Europe" refused to give Ankara "the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought".
Turkey began EU membership talks in 2005, but the following year saw Brussels freeze talks in eight of the 35 chapters which candidate countries must successfully negotiate prior to membership.
That followed Turkey's refusal to implement a protocol to open its air and sea ports to Cyprus, an EU member state, until the EU moves on its pledge to ease the international isolation of the island's breakaway Turkish-held north.
Sluggish domestic reform and disquiet among some EU-member states over allowing the largely Muslim nation into the bloc have also been cited as reasons behind opposition.
© 2010 AFP