German leader assures Turkey of support in joining EU
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, currently visiting Turkey, assured Turkish leaders Monday of Berlin's support for Ankara's efforts to join the European Union (EU).
"Turkey can count on it," he told reporters after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan - but added that conditions set by the European Commission for a start of Turkish membership negotiations must first be in place.
"There is a strong chance of this being the case by the end of the year," Schroeder said. Turkish EU membership would represent "an increase in security which one cannot estimate too highly," he added.
Turkey's "stabilizing role" in the region had "increased, not decreased" - under Erdogan's premiership both politically and economically, Schroeder said.
A start of EU membership negotiations would mean "even more economic dynamism".
Schroeder added that the already close economic cooperation between Germany and Turkey could be developed further, especially in the transport and energy sectors.
Schroeder arrived late Sunday for a two-day visit while facing continued resistance from German's opposition parties to any Turkish membership in the EU.
He was set to hold further talks Monday and Tuesday with Turkish government and business leaders on the country's joining the EU and on strengthening relations of trade.
In addition to Erdogan, Schroeder was to meet President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and business leaders during stops in Ankara and Istanbul. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)