22nd Feb 2019

Turkey calls for good behaviour from France

  • The bridge over the Bosphorus - France has said Turkey "does not have a place in Europe" (Photo: EUobserver)

Ankara has said that the reluctance of some member states to clearly say that it can one day be a full member of the EU is having a negative impact on the bloc's image in the country – a comment directed at Turkey-hostile France.

"The remarks that we hear from time to time made by some EU politicians hurt the public perception of the EU in Turkey," Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan told MEPs in the European parliament's foreign affairs committee on Wednesday (28 May).

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Turkey should not become "hostage" to domestic politics in "some EU states," he added, reiterating that full EU membership is the only option the country will accept.

"It is one EU member state blocking us [in particular]," when it comes to the opening of accession negotiations in some policy areas – or chapters, the minister said.

Paris is one of the most public opponents of Turkish EU membership and will be taking over the EU helm for six months starting July, when it assumes the bloc's rotating presidency.

France has been reluctant to open negotiations on those chapters seen as very sensitive and critical to EU membership, such as on the euro. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has repeatedly stated that the Eurasian country "does not belong to Europe."

In addition, the French parliament is currently debating a constitutional reform package, which, if accepted in its current state, would make it obligatory to hold a referendum to approve EU membership of any country whose population is above five percent of the EU's population.

Turkey, as well as EU-hopeful Ukraine, would be affected by this rule.

"We know they [France] have an opinion about the end of the process, we know that the French leader has an opinion different from that of many other EU leaders," Mr Babacan said.

"[But] we have had contacts [with the French], and we have been given assurance that the French presidency will be a normal presidency," he added.

France has said it will not try to hinder Ankara's accession process during the second half of this year, saying the EU presidency country should behave in an "impartial, fair and balanced" way.

"France will not pose obstacles to the opening of the chapters one by one. I can't give a more optimistic answer than that," French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner told a conference in Brussels on Monday, according to Turkish daily Zaman.

Accession talks between the EU and Turkey were officially launched in October 2005, but negotiations in only six policy areas have started so far.

Two more chapters – on company law and intellectual property rights – out of the 35 in total could be opened in June.

According to Mr Babacan, talks on energy and environment are also "likely to be opened soon."

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