Turkey EU bid boosted by vote defeats of opponents: German minister

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke on the same day that Socialist Francois Hollande took over the French presidency from Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the most vocal opponents of Turkish EU membership.

Turkey EU bid boosted by vote defeats of opponents: German minister

World Bulletin / News Desk

Recent election defeats for opponents of Turkey's bid for EU membership offer a chance to unfreeze negotiations, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told an audience in Turkey on Tuesday.

"After the latest elections we have the chance, but we also have the challenge, to overcome this frozen situation," Westerwelle told a forum hosted by the Sabanci University Istanbul Policy Group.

Westerwelle, member of a junior partner in the coalition led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, an opponent of Turkish membership of the EU, did not specify to which elections he was referring.

But he spoke on the same day that Socialist Francois Hollande took over the French presidency from Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the most vocal opponents of Turkish EU membership.

On Sunday, Merkel's conservative party also lost an election in Germany's most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, just 18 months before a national poll.

Having opened formal entry negotiations in 2005, the process has ground to a virtual standstill in recent years due to the intractable dispute over the divided island of Cyprus, and opposition to Turkish membership among core EU members, France and Germany.

Turkey has said it will suspend relations with the EU presidency during Greek Cyprus's six-month tenure, due to a lack of progress in reunification talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots.

Westerwelle implored all sides not to squander the chance to get talks back on track by allowing emotive issues to block progress when Greek Cyprus takes over the EU presidency.

"We should be very careful that -- in the second half of this year Cyprus has the EU presidency -- we should not freeze once again the negotiations and what is possible and necessary for a constructive dialogue, Westerwelle said.

"We should all deal in a very sensitive way with this situation. So let us be wise and not only emotional. Let us see our goal at the horizon and this is what counts."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Mayıs 2012, 22:20

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