Turkey’s EU Candidacy Under US Pressure Says Belgian Official

BRUSSELS (Expatica/Zaman)–Belgium’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Jacques Simonet–said the European Union (EU) accepted Turkey’s candidacy for full EU membership under US pressure.

Simonet–who is a member of the Valon Liberal Party–a partner in Belgium’s coalition government–made the statemen’s to La Libre Belgique newspaper when addressing the issue of EU enlargement.

Simonet said that Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt–who is on an official visit to Turkey–did not go to tell Turkey "We do not want you in EU."

Rather–Simonet elaborated: "When we opened our doors to Turkey in the real sense–we did it for a really bad reason. We have accepted Turkey’s candidacy under US pressure."

Prime Minister Verhofstadt did warn Turkey on Tuesday–it should do all it can to resolve the Cyprus issue before the country’s accession to the EU.

Verhofstadt said the new Turkish government had made considerable headway in the run-up to its eventual accession to the EU–but warned it not to challenge the EU over the Cyprus issue.

Although the issue is not a prerequisite for Turkey’s entry into the EU–Verhofstadt nevertheless insisted that an answer would have to be found–saying Turkey had until May 2004 to do its best to find a solution.

"We favor a solution in Cyprus–but solution does not mean giving completely positive answers to the wishes of the other side," Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said at a joint press conference.

The Belgian and Turkish prime ministers signed a bilateral agreement on customs cooperation–implementing the customs union agreed between the EU and Turkey earlier this year.

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