Turkey stresses determination on its EU membership bid

Turkey aims to join the European Union (EU) as a full member, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed on Thursday.

"Turkey is a country which started entry talks with the EU. Turkey's objective is clear. It is eager to be a full EU member," Levent Bilman told a weekly press conference.

While replying to a question on French President Nicolas Sarkozy's statements that he would not drop his opposition to Turkey's EU membership, Bilman noted that the statements were not encouraging.

During his electoral campaign, Sarkozy repeatedly stated his position on Turkey's adhesion to EU, advocating for a "privileged partnership" between the EU and the secular Muslim country.

He also said that Turkey is not a European country and that its membership would dilute the bloc's cohesion and dangerously stretch its borders.

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Sarkozy's remarks would fan anti-Europe sentiments among Turks and damage bilateral ties.

"Mr. Sarkozy has to overcome his prejudices.... If we are to unite civilizations within the EU, if we say the EU is not a Christian club, then Mr. Sarkozy should review his opinions," Erdogan said.

According to the semi-official Anatolia new agency, Erdogan had a phone conversation Thursday with Sarkozy, urging joint effort and direct talks to overcome common problems.

"Let's not talk to each other through the media," Erdogan was quoted as telling the French president.

Sarkozy conveyed his deepest sorrow over Tuesday's bomb attack in Ankara and affirmed his willingness to exert joint effort to overcome common problems, Anatolia said.

The EU began membership talks with Turkey in October 2005. However, the talks have been partially suspended since last December as Turkey refused to open its ports with Cyprus, an EU member.

The EU and Turkey are currently locked in adhesion negotiations, with EU members expected to state their position by June 30, under the German presidency, on the opening of three new thematic chapters in negotiations for Turkey's adhesion to EU.

"We expect the EU to submit its negotiation position papers on ' statistics', 'economic and monetary policy' and 'financial control' chapters," Bilman said.

Source: Xinhua

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