(Edited from AP, Turkey) Turkey’s president sounded an optimistic note Wednesday about his country’s prospects of joining the European Union despite its recent turn toward the East.

The man in charge of expanding the European Union gave a mixed response, praising Turkey’s progress in granting more cultural rights to the Kurdish minority and curbing the influence of the military on politics but saying the reunification of Cyprus needs urgent attention. Cyprus was divided into Turkish and Greek sectors after Turkish troops invaded it in the wake of a coup seeking to unite the island with Greece in 1974.

(Edited from AP, Turkey) Turkey’s president sounded an optimistic note Wednesday about his country’s prospects of joining the European Union despite its recent turn toward the East.

The man in charge of expanding the European Union gave a mixed response, praising Turkey’s progress in granting more cultural rights to the Kurdish minority and curbing the influence of the military on politics but saying the reunification of Cyprus needs urgent attention. Cyprus was divided into Turkish and Greek sectors after Turkish troops invaded it in the wake of a coup seeking to unite the island with Greece in 1974.

EU membership is still regarded by officials at the highest level of the Turkish state as the ultimate way of advancing and modernizing the maturing democracy. Europe is Turkey’s top trading partner and Turkey has a customs union agreement with the continent. Turkey also hopes to help reduce Europe’s reliance on Russian energy by supplying gas and oil from Central Asia and the Middle East.

But there is consistently low enthusiasm about admitting a large, poor and Muslim nation in much of the EU. The EU and Turkey started membership negotiations in 2005, but Germany and France have proposed a special partnership for Turkey that falls short of full membership, angering Turkish leaders who argue that it violates the principle of equality for the candidate countries.

Turkey also resents pressure from the West to reckon with the uglier aspects of its past, by making peace with Armenians and acknowledge that mass killings of Armenians at the turn of the century were genocide – a claim strongly denied by Turkey. Opponents say Turkey also has not moved fast enough on promised reforms and should grant more rights to minority Kurds and withdraw its troops from Cyprus.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here