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Schroeder urges Turkey to press forward with reforms demanded by EU

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  • Schroeder urges Turkey to press forward with reforms demanded by EU

    Schroeder urges Turkey to press forward with reforms demanded by EU
    By JAMES C. HELICKE

    AP Worldstream
    May 04, 2005

    German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday urged Turkey to push
    ahead with reforms demanded by the European Union amid concerns about
    the country's progress in meeting the bloc's membership requirements.

    The German leader also said the EU must do its part and emphasized
    that momentum for Turkey's EU accession shouldn't depend on "changing
    opinion polls."

    EU officials have recently expressed concern that Turkish reform
    efforts slowed after the bloc agreed in December to start membership
    talks with Turkey on October.

    Schroeder, one of Turkey's staunchest allies in the EU, urged Turkey to
    take steps required before the talks can begin _ including recognizing
    Cyprus' Greek Cypriot-led government. Still, he expressed confidence
    the accession talks would proceed as scheduled.

    "What's important is that the prime minister's government make clear
    that 'We are not hesitating' and that 'We will continue decisively
    on this path," Schroeder said at a news conference in Ankara with
    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Schroeder added that the EU must also do its part, by guaranteeing the
    "punctual" beginning of talks on Oct. 3.

    For the talks to begin, "a few things are necessary. The reforms must
    be realized, the Ankara protocol must be signed," he said. "I have
    good hope it will work out."

    The protocol expands a customs agreement with the EU to the group's
    10 new members, including Cyprus _ a move the EU says would amount
    to de facto recognition.

    Schroeder said it was important for the bloc to start talks with
    Turkey, saying the accession carried "strategic" significance.

    The United States has also long backed Turkish accession saying that
    admitting the overwhelmingly Muslim, but staunchly secular state
    would promote stability in the region and serve as a symbol to many
    Muslims that their future was with the West.

    Many Europeans, however, have expressed concerned about admitting
    the relatively poor, mainly Muslim country, saying the Muslim country
    isn't European and its accession could overwhelm the bloc.

    "One cannot make such an important, strategic decision of such
    immense historical meaning dependent on changing opinion polls,"
    Schroeder said.

    Erdogan said the two leaders also discussed Cyprus, the Middle East,
    and Turkish concerns about a German opposition push for Turkey to
    examine its role in the massacre of Armenians at the time of World
    War I.

    Schroeder praised recent calls by Erdogan to establish a joint
    Turkish-Armenian commission to study the killings, considered a
    genocide by Armenians. He said he hoped the Armenian government would
    recognize the "sensibility of the proposal." Turkey denies a genocide
    was committed and says Armenians exaggerate the number of those killed.

    Erdogan later met with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

    Schroeder was later expected in Istanbul, where he was scheduled to
    meet with the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox
    Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
    [url]http://www.ArmenianAncestry.com[/url] - [COLOR="Red"]Armenian[/COLOR] [COLOR="Blue"]Genealogy[/COLOR] [COLOR="Orange"]Forum[/COLOR]
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