Don’t close EU door on Turkey, Westerwelle warns

October 25, 2010, Monday/ 16:26:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Amid mounting calls from far-right parties in Europe that the European Union should cancel accession negotiations with Turkey, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has said the EU should respect its commitments to Turkey.

“Those who close the doors on Turkey without hesitation will have missed a historic opportunity, too. My stance towards Turkey is clear: It is obligatory to abide by the agreements,” he said, speaking at a conference on German foreign policy. “Our word binds us, and we are keeping it. For that reason, we are tirelessly working for the negotiations to be carried out honestly in an open-ended way and not to be stuck at some point,” he added.

Turkey has been continuing membership talks with the EU since 2005 but in five years the distance that has been covered has led many to be suspicious of whether membership can ever actually be achieved. Of the 33 chapters of negotiations that must be started and successfully closed in the process, Turkey has only closed one and managed to have 13 others opened so far. In 2006, the EU decided not to close any chapters unless a resolution is found for the Cyprus issue.

Stressing that Turkey’s role should not be confined to some chapters, Westerwelle, however, also said: “What we are talking about here is a proud and dynamic nation. And that its face is turned to Europe means so much for us.”

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