Germany Calls for Talks on Turkey’s EU Bid

Posted July 1st, 2011 at 6:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Germany's foreign minister is calling for “fair and respectful” talks with Turkey regarding its bid for full membership in the European Union.

Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul Friday, Guido Westerwelle said Turkey holds a strategic role in the region, where several countries are in the midst of popular uprisings against repressive governments.

Westerwelle said the region around Turkey is experiencing “a historic transformation” and this is a “necessary reason” to re-open talks on the country's EU bid.

Westerwelle was speaking alongside his Turkish counterpart during a visit to the country, which straddles the border between Europe and the Middle East.

EU officials opened accession talks with the Ankara government in 2005. But the process has slowed considerably since, with both France and Germany raising objections to mainly-Muslim Turkey's membership.

The EU has frozen talks on eight key areas in the lengthy accession process, in an attempt to push Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus.

Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government, and has sided with the Turkish Cypriot north in the 36-year standoff that has divided the Mediterranean island-nation. Ongoing reconciliation talks begun in 2008 between the Turkish north and Greek Cypriot south have so far failed to produce a settlement.