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Turkey blasts French, German ‘shortage of vision’ on EU

Ankara — Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Tuesday that "a shortage of vision" was behind German and French objections to his country’s struggling bid to join the European Union.

Speaking after talks with visiting Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, Gul said Turkey was determined to pursue reforms aimed at EU membership.

"Politicians come and go… They may say some things for various reasons — and maybe because of a shortage of vision — but we will not pay attention to that," he said.

His comments came in response to a question about recent statements by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, both reiterating their opposition to Turkey’s EU membership and suggesting a special status for the Muslim-majority country.

"Turkey will pursue the negotiation process with determination … The reforms will continue," Gul said.

The Portuguese president backed Ankara, stressing that Turkey’s accession was important for regional security.

"Portugal has lent full support to Turkey from the very beginning," Silva said. "Turkey’s strategic position is very important for world peace … The European Union needs Turkey."

Turkey began membership talks in 2005, but it has so far opened negotiations on only 10 of the 35 policy areas that candidates must complete, amid a trade row with Cyprus and strong opposition in some EU countries to its accession.

Turkish officials have accused particularly France of hampering progress in the talks.