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France - Turkey

Sarkozy snubs Turkey's EU membership bid on Ankara visit

Reuters/Murad Sezer

French President Nicolas Sarkozy snubbed Turkey’s EU membership bid on Friday and urged an alternative partnership for the mainly Muslim nation before its accession talks hit a "deadlock".

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Sarkozy delivered his blunt message after talks with Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul during a brief visit to Ankara in his capacity as chairman of the G-20 group of leading economies.

"Between accession and partnership, which Turkey says it does not accept, there is a path of equilibrium that we can find," Sarkozy told a news conference.

"The best way of getting out of what risks to be a deadlock one day is to find a compromise”.

Gul however insisted that membership remained a priority for Turkey and urged France not to block the country's accession talks.

"We expect the entire EU to keep the promise they made ... and give us the opportunity to complete the process successfully," he said.

Turkey and France have been close allies since Ottoman times but relations soured somewhat after Sarkozy became president in 2007 and raised vocal objections to Turkey's EU accession.

Sarkozy says the mainly Muslim nation of some 73 million does not belong to Europe, and, together with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, advocates a special partnership for Turkey, an idea that Ankara flatly rejects.

 

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