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Monday, September 13, 1999 Published at 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK

World: Europe

EU warms towards Turkey

Turkish rescuers search for survivors of the Athens quake

The European Union Foreign Affairs Commissioner Hans van den Broek says he wants Turkey added to the discussion when the European Union reviews its expansion plans in December.

"I want to add Turkey to that discussion and we will have to take new decisions on this in Helsinki," said Mr Van den Broek at a meeting of foreign ministers on Monday.

The Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem has been holding talks with his European counterparts in Brussels to discuss aid and relations between the EU and Turkey.

Quake politics

The meeting follows a thaw in political relations with arch rival and EU member Greece following Turkey's devastating earthquake last month.

The talks were also intended to help build confidence and pave the way for more far-reaching discussions on Turkey's EU candidacy.

The EU dropped Turkey from its expansion programme two years ago because of its poor relations with Athens, and general concern over its human rights record.

But Greek-Turkish relations have since improved dramatically since both countries helped each other after recent earthquakes.

Economic aid

[ image: Mr Papandreou: Wants Turkey in EU]
Mr Papandreou: Wants Turkey in EU
Ahead of the foreign ministers' meeting, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou told the UK's Guardian newspaper that Athens wanted its neighbour to join the 15-nation bloc.

"Greece not only wants to see Turkey in the EU, it wants to be pulling the cart of a European Turkey," Mr Papandreou told the newspaper.

He said it was in Greece's interest to have Turkey as part of the EU rather than having it in "continual conflict and tension with the block and European standards".

At the meeting, the 15 EU foreign ministers backed the early release of some $635m in loans and another $205m in economic and reconstruction aid to Turkey.

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