World Bulletin / News Desk
French President Francois Hollande has a more moderate approach to Turkey's EU accession than former president Nicolas Sarkozy, the Turkish Ambassador in Paris says.
Hollande will be the first French president to make an official visit Turkey in more than two decades, and his goal is to advance relations between the two countries.
French objections to Turkey's possible membership in the EU came from former President Sarkozy, who believed Turkey did not belong in the organization. Sarkozy, a fierce opponent of Turkey's EU membership, blocked the opening of five so-called chapters -- areas of negotiations with the EU that must be concluded before a country can join the organization.
But Hollande's election in 2012 to the French presidency has raised hopes for a change in France's stance. Hollande removed his country’s block on Turkey’s talks to join the EU, paving the way for the resumption of the negotiations after a three-year hiatus.
Turkey's ambassador to France, Tahsin Burcuoglu, told The Anadolu Agency recently that France has no objections to the opening of chapters on "judiciary and fundamental rights" and "justice, freedom and security."
However, France is known to be hesitant about opening the chapter regulating economic and monetary policies, which is directly related to the full accession. And there are concerns that Hollande, whose popularity at home is low, could harden his position in the coming months.
"Hollande has a more moderate approach to Turkey's EU accession than Sarkozy, but he might change his stance due to the upcoming elections," Burcuoglu said.
France will hold local elections in March. Then, in May, voters will elect members of the European Parliament. There are concerns that French officials might not want to revive Turkey's EU accession process in advance of those elections, because the far-right is on the rise and may exploit the issue for political gain, the ambassador said.
Turkey began negotiations with the EU in 2005. It must comply with all 35 chapters to become a member. So far, only 14 negotiating chapters have been opened while 16 remain blocked, due in part to the ongoing dispute over Cyprus. The island has been divided between a Greek area and a Turkish area since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north. The EU recognizes the Greek Cypriot administration as legitmate, as do many countries around the world.Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2014, 11:57