Turkey’s Erdogan seeks French backing for EU bid

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Paris for three days of talks aimed at overcoming French reservations about Ankara’s bid for EU membership.

While Turkey enjoys the support of most EU Member States in its
quest for EU membership, France has so far sent mixed signals.
French President Jacques Chirac has declared his intention to
formulate his position on Turkey's application on the basis of the
Commission's progress report due out in October.

Chirac himself recognises Turkey's reforms and
favours the country's eventual EU membership, but believes that
more reforms are needed. Meanwhile, his ruling Union for a Popular
Movement remains opposed to Turkey's EU bid. France's other
right-wing parties are all overtly hostile to Turkey's accession,
mainly for cultural and geopolitical reasons. The left-wing parties
mostly support Turkey’s candidature, although the Socialists
have adopted a rather lukewarm stance. The majority of French
citizens have declared themselves to be opposed to the idea of
Turkey joining the Union.

Besides meeting with Chirac, Erdogan - in his
first visit to France as prime minister - held talks with Prime
Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and will see other leading French
politicians and representatives of France's 400,000-strong Turkish
community.

Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership
since 1999. EU leaders will decide in December whether to begin
membership talks with Ankara.

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