Fischer says pushing Turkey away from EU is grave mistake

February 15, 2011, Tuesday/ 17:04:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the European Union has made a “grave mistake” by pushing Turkey aside, warning the EU that it will be failing to protect its interests in the region if Turkey does not become a member of the 27-nation bloc.

Fischer, who is also the founder of the German Greens Party, said in an interview with Greek daily To Vima that Turkey’s European Union membership bid is currently at a standstill and that the candidate country has lost its appetite to become an EU member, the Sabah daily reported on Monday.

Fischer, who was invited to Athens by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, pointed out that Turkey has been making great advances and is a member of the G-20. Fischer said Turkey has started to mull various alternatives. “How will Europe protect its interests in the Middle East, the Caspian region, Central Asia and the Arab world without Turkey?” Fischer asked. “I believe the European Union is making a grave mistake by pushing Turkey aside. This is against our interests,” he concluded.

Turkey has made several reforms in the past few years that it thinks will enable it to conform to European standards, but the EU continues to cite the problem over Cyprus as the primary stumbling block along Turkey’s membership path. No negotiating chapter has been opened in the past eight months, and membership talks are barely moving. Fischer also reportedly expressed his views regarding Turkey’s EU membership to Papandreou, who is also a staunch supporter of Turkey’s membership in the 27-nation bloc.

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