Sunday, October 7, 2007

Kouchner: France's recognition of Armenian Genocide shouldn't hamper


French and Turkish Foreign Ministers agreed that
their countries have more similarities than differences and that
continued dialogue between the two nations has the potential to
improve relations. Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and his guest,
French Foreign Minister and Minister of European Affairs Bernard
Kouchner, were speaking at a press conference Friday during a visit by
Kouchner to Ankara. Babacan said the French Foreign Minister was
informed that Turkey does not want to be dragged into discussions
about the future of the EU and awaits the fulfillment of European
promises made to it. The two were set to have a second round of talks
in the evening, when, according to Babacan, they would discuss Turkish
and French interests in other countries, especially the Middle East.

Kouchner was also scheduled to visit President Abdullah Gul and Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where discussions were expected to
focus on issues such as a `committee of wise men' and `privileged
partnership.' Babacan informed Kouchner about Turkey's unwillingness
to even discuss the possibility of a status other than full membership
in the European Union, Zaman reports.

As to the French bill criminalizing the Armenian Genocide denial, the
French Foreign Minister claimed in the press conference that the law
will not cause any difficulty between Turkey and France and that
nothing has been decided upon yet. The committee of wise men France is
supposed to discuss the future strategies and boundaries of the
EU. France also asks that this committee work on the Mediterranean
Union that France wants to see Turkey a part of.

In an interview with the Milliyet newspaper, Kouchner said that France
recently went through a difficult period in its relations with Turkey
and that his visit should be regarded as a symbol of a mutual desire
to give a strong new impetus to relations between the two. Kouchner is
the first high-level French official to visit Ankara since Nicolas
Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey's EU accession, was elected
president in May. Sarkozy has repeatedly said Turkey does not belong
in the EU, arguing that it is geographically in Asia.

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