4/14/2008

EU chief says bloc is committed to Turkey's membership

Hurriyet - The EU was committed to negotiations toward Turkey's membership, the European Commissions president said Saturday, and he urged the country to speed up reforms. Barroso, ending a three-day visit, left Turkey on Saturday. Jose Manuel Barroso said he had encouraged Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and other officials to "move ahead on the reform path for the good of the country and to bring the country closer to EU membership." "The EU is committed to continue negotiations for accession and welcomes the support of all those people in Turkey who want to move their country toward EU membership," Barroso told reporters. "We are committed to our common future," Barroso said. Barroso and Erdogan met on Thursday. Barroso said two more policy chapters will be opened in the accession negotiations with Turkey by July. Barroso also said the Constitutional Court's ruling in the closure case against the AKP should be based on the EU norms, adding nobody should expect the Union to assume a position on secularism debates in Turkey. Barroso said his visit aimed to "encourage" the Turkish government to continue the reforms, while Erdogan promised to do more. "We did our homework for Turkey completely, even more than needed," Erdogan said, adding the government aims to complete all legislative works by 2013 and considers 2008 as a "leap" year for the EU. The EU has opened six chapters in Turkey's accession negotiations, which started in 2005. The EU suspended negotiations in eight policy chapters because of Turkey's refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels.

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