19 Ocak 2011 Çarşamba

France's Sarkozy to visit Turkey on Feb 25

Sarkozy is expected to debate Turkey's EU membership bid, regional issues, the initiatives of France--holding the rotating presidency of the G-20, and its priorities during his stay in Turkey.

 The French president will pay a formal visit to Turkey on February 25.

Nicolas Sarkozy is expected to debate Turkey's European Union (EU) membership bid, regional issues, the initiatives of France--holding the rotating presidency of the G-20, and its priorities during his stay in Turkey.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had invited Sarkozy to Turkey during his formal visit to Paris, France last year, and the French president accepted that invitation.

The main obstacle before further improvement of Turkish-French relations is Paris' objection to Turkey's EU membership bid.

Turkey became an EU candidate country in December 1999. The union launched accession talks with Turkey on October 3, 2005. The EU has so far opened 13 of the 35 chapter headings to negotiations with Turkey.

French authorities say that their stance on Turkey's membership has not changed, and pay attention not to use the expression "privileged partnership" that causes uneasiness in Turkey.

During recent visits of Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and State Minister for the EU and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis, France has assured that membership negotiations would continue although it objected to Ankara's full membership.

France does not hamper negotiations with Turkey however it does not back opening accession talks on more chapters. Moreover, it does not lift its veto on opening of five chapters which will directly take Turkey to EU membership.

Turkey cannot make progress on chapters including "monetary policy", "regional policies", "agriculture", "budget measures", and "institutional issues" which are obstructed by France.

Developments in the Caucasus and Middle East have brought Turkey and France, which wanted to become a mediator in the region, closer to each other.

Political observers say "Turkey's mediation initiatives in the Caucasus and Middle East has once more proved regional influence of the country", and France, which wants to have an efficient role in those regions, refrain from taking Turkey against itself due to EU membership discussions and makes remarks that it has to take joint action with Turkey.

Also, Turkey's location in a region where significant energy resources intersect, and France's willingness to join the Nabucco project are the two important issues in Paris-Ankara relations.

The French propose cooperation with Central Asian republics, and they express in every occasion their wish to boost relations with Turkey particulary in nuclear energy.

Nabucco is the new gas bridge from Asia to Europe and the flagship project in the Southern Corridor. It will be a pipeline to connect the world's richest gas regions - the Caspian region, Middle East and Egypt - to the European consumer markets.

The pipeline will link the Eastern border of Turkey, to Baumgarten in Austria - one of the most important gas turntables in Central Europe - via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. When completed the 3,300 km pipeline's annual capacity will be 31 bcm. The construction of the pipeline is supported by the 2009 Intergovernmental Agreement signed in Ankara in July 2009, which harmonises the legal framework and grants stable and equal transport conditions for all partners and customers.


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