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Sarkozy insists EU membership not for Turkey

02-26-2011 10:33 BJT

ANKARA, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday reiterated his opposition to Turkey's full membership in the European Union (EU), urging that an alternative formula must be found.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (R) holds a joint press conference with
visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Ankara, capital of Turkey,
Feb. 25, 2011. Sarkozy reiterated his opposition to Turkey's full membership
in the European Union (EU), urging that an alternative formula must be found.
(Xinhua Photo)

"There is an obvious subject we do not agree on... We should try to find a way that both prevents Europe from becoming unstable, and degrades the Turkish people," Sarkozy told a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, referring to Turkey's EU bid.

"We will continue to seek ways for the future," he said.

Meanwhile, Gul asked France not to hinder the accession talks.

"We expect the EU to keep its promises made to us and give us a chance to complete the negotiation process successfully," Gul said, noting that the negotiations should not be blocked by "artificial barriers."

The EU launched accession talks with Turkey in October 2005 but has only opened 13 chapters, or negotiating areas, out of 35 that are required so far. France has blocked several chapters.

The Cyprus issue is a major stumbling block on Turkey's path to EU membership, as Turkey refuses to open ports and airports to the traffic of Greek Cypriot side, which is an EU member.

Meanwhile, French and German leaders favor a "privileged relationship" with Turkey instead of granting it full membership.

In his first visit to Turkey as French president, Sarkozy met Gul and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Before his visit, the French leader said he came to have in- depth discussions on the French term presidency in the G20 and hopefully to gain Turkey's support.

He said Friday that issues like reform of international monetary system and regulation of raw material prices were on the agenda during his meeting with Gul.

"Turkey's contribution in the G20 is very important for us," said Sarkozy, who noted that France would be very pleased if a working seminar could be held in Turkey in April on regulation of raw material prices.

Trade volume between Turkey and France reached nearly 12 billion euros in 2010. France is Turkey's fourth biggest export market, while French companies rank third in total foreign direct investment in Turkey.

The relations of Turkey and France have been strained after Sarkozy became president in 2007 and publicly expressed objections to Turkey's EU membership.

Sarkozy argues, with a predominantly Muslim population of some 73 million, Turkey does not belong to Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sarkozy advocate a special partnership with Turkey instead, an idea that Turkey rejects.

Sarkozy arrived in the Turkish capital Ankara on Friday afternoon and left in the evening.

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