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German, French leaders question Turkish EU membership | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 10.05.2009
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin on Sunday in a mutual show of support ahead of European elections next month.  

Sarkozy's visit was the first time that a French president had campaigned in Germany in the run-up to an election. Merkel is scheduled to make a reciprocal trip to Paris at the end of this month, a diplomat said.

"We carry weight when we are united and when we know what to decide," Sarkozy said in Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper, adding that his relationship with Merkel was "efficient."

"She knows that she can rely on me like I know I can rely on her," he said.

However, Sarkozy also said his comments were not intended as an endorsement of support for Merkel in her bid to win re-election as chancellor in September. The French president insisted that was "for the Germans to decide."

by Fran on Mon May 11th, 2009 at 02:16:23 PM EST
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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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