Brussels welcomes softer line on Turkey

28th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Brussels welcomes softer French line on Turkey

BRUSSELS, Aug 28, 2007 (AFP) - The European Commission welcomed Monday French President Nicolas Sarkozy's softer line on Turkey after he pledged not to block its membership talks with the European Union.

"We welcome this contribution to the debate that is underway," said Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj.

"The EU must respect its commitments and the accession negotiations must continue based on the negotiating framework" agreed by Turkey and European Union member countries, he said.

At a conference of French ambassadors in Paris, Sarkozy said the 27-member bloc must engage in a "vital reflection" about its borders as a condition for Turkey to continue its EU talks.

"If this vital reflection on the future of our union is launched by the 27 members, France will not oppose the opening of new chapters for negotiation between the Union and Turkey in the months and years to come," he said.

He did not repeat past claims that Turkey has no place in the EU.

Portugal, which holds the EU's rotating presidency until the end of the year, had ruled out a major debate on Europe's borders this year.

But a spokesman could not say Monday whether Lisbon would be prepared to launch talks on the topic among a committee of experts this year.

Turkey was made an official candidate to join the EU in October 2005 but its long quest to join has been dogged by problems.

The EU froze talks in December with Turkey on eight of the 35 policy areas, or chapters, that all aspiring members must complete because of Ankara's on-going trade dispute with Cyprus.

It decided to continue discussion on chapters not linked to trade policy.

In April, the EU and Turkey began talks on "enterprise and industry policy," only the second chapter Ankara had managed to open since "science and research" in June 2006.

Then this June, the bloc opened talks on "statistics" and "financial control" but decided not to begin negotiations on "economic and monetary policy" as planned amid stern opposition from France.


Subject: French news

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