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Friday, 20 February, 1998, 23:35 GMT
Turkey asks France to help it into EU

The Turkish president, Suleiman Demirel, has insisted that Turkey has the right credentials to join the European Union, but says it is being discriminated against on religious grounds.

Mr Demirel -- speaking on the second day of a visit to France -- urged the French government to take up Turkey's case with the EU, which has failed to designate Ankara as a potential new Union member.The French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, said Paris would help Turkey develop a more democratic legal system to enable it to qualify for EU membership.

Reports of persistent human rights abuses were among the main reasons cited by the EU for disqualifying Turkey from talks on.

Meanwhile the Turkish prime minister, Mesut Yilmaz, has met a special British envoy Sir David Hannay, who arrived in Ankara with on a mission to mend relations between Turkey and the EU.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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