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EUobserver / Ankara's closer ties with Muslim countries 'EU compatible'

EUOBSERVER / ANKARA - EU accession remains Turkey's main priority after a cabinet reshuffle, with the country's new policy of forging stronger ties with Muslim neighbours seen as EU compatible despite concerns from the secularist oppposition.

"In my term the first priority of our foreign policy will continue to be the EU," Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a group of EU journalists in Ankara on Friday.

National guard in Ankara: Istanbul is emphasising the multiple dimensions of its foreign policy

Only ten days in office, after a cabinet reshuffle which saw his predecessor, Ali Babacan, take over the position of minister of economy, he dwelled on the "multidimensional" identity of Turkey - European but majority Muslim, neighbouring the Middle East, the Caucasus, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea - and said no Turkish leader could ignore any of these parts.

In the eyes of the opposition, this shift marks a departure from the traditional secularist view that Turkey is a different culture, but part of the same Western civilisation as Europe. Common military exercises with Syria, for instance, have risen concerns in Israel, a long-time ally of Ankara.

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:18:23 PM EST
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