French president supports Turkey’s EU membership

Anaka, Jan 28: French President Francois Hollande Monday said his government is willing to help Turkey advance its membership bid with the European Union, pledging to support the opening of new negotiation chapters between the two sides.

“The opening of new chapters would benefit Turkey, as some of the negotiation chapters are related to topics such as the separation of powers, fundamental rights, rule of law and judiciary,” Xinhua quoted Hollande as saying at a joint press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul here.

Hollande paid the first official visit to Turkey by a French head of state in 22 years, with seven ministers accompanying him aiming to boost economic ties with Ankara.

He stressed his government supports continuing the negotiation process, adding France would be key in deciding Turkey’s membership status at a referendum that will take place at the end of the process.

Turkish President Gul asked his French counterpart not to block Turkey’s EU candidacy.

Hollande’s predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy blocked five negotiation chapters of Turkey’s EU membership talks, straining relations between the two countries.

Gul emphasised the French president’s visit to Turkey is “an opportunity and both countries should benefit from it.”

Hollande reiterated Gul’s viewpoint, saying there were many economic opportunities in nuclear and renewable energy, agriculture, transportation areas between two countries.

Turkey and France signed a strategic cooperation agreement along some other deals on nuclear energy and infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, Hollande said Turkey and France should also cooperate on containing radical groups in Syria.

Following his talks in Ankara, the French president will head to the country’s largest city of Istanbul to attend an economic forum bringing together business leaders from both nations.