Turkey Sticks to EU Membership

Despite the failure of EU leaders to fully confirm Turkey's full accession to the European Union, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed Saturday, December 14, Ankara's commitment to seek the membership of the 27-nation bloc.

Turkey Sticks to EU Membership

"We are determined and are continuing our path (towards EU membership) as before," said Erdogan, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

EU foreign ministers have adopted a text omitting the usual phrase of "accession conferences" when referring to membership talks with Turkey, using instead "intergovernmental conferences."

The wording was the result of objections by France, whose president Nicolas Sarkozy strongly opposes Turkey's accession into the bloc.

"I have no concerns over our EU process and I do not make much of this text," Erdogan said.

"The text removes the word 'accession', but it still mentions negotiations. And what is the goal of negotiations? It is accession," said Erdogan.

Turkey was made an official candidate to join the EU in October 2005.

However, Turkey's long quest to join Europe's rich 27-country club 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.

Reflection Group

During their summit on Friday, EU leaders agreed to set up a "reflection group" to consider Europe's long-term future.

The "reflection group" — the brainchild of Sarkozy — will be chaired by former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez.

Sarkozy first proposed in July setting up a group of "wise men" to debate where the EU boundaries should lie and whether Turkey should be included.

But the mandate has since been changed to look at the future of Europe in 2020-2030, focusing mostly on the economic challenges of globalization.

Sarkozy said France would not block Turkey's EU membership talks if the group was formed.

"In this new Europe ... the question of frontiers will have to be asked. Should Europe expand indefinitely, and if it does what consequences would that have?" Sarkozy told reporters after the summit.

"It's quite obvious that this is a question for the group of wise men."

But the "reflection group" has sparked opposition from other EU leaders.

"We think we are able to reflect by ourselves," Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"It's something that we reluctantly agreed because it is important for one big member state."

Under its mandate, the committee would be tasked with anticipating and considering the long-term goals and challenges for Europe to 2030.

It will also be tasked with reinforcing and modernizing the European bloc "which reconciles economic success and social solidarity," as well as considering migration, climate change and the fight against terrorism.

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Aralık 2007, 10:56