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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 12:48 GMT
Turkey criticises EU 'injustice'
EU foreign ministers
EU foreign ministers struggled to reconcile divergent views
The Turkish prime minister has accused the EU of acting unfairly towards Turkey by deciding to slow down its membership talks.

"The EU decision is an injustice against Turkey," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkish parliament.

He said EU-Turkey relations were now facing a "serious test".

EU foreign ministers decided on Monday to suspend accession talks with Turkey on eight of the 35 areas that candidates are required to complete.

The decision stems from Turkey's refusal to open its sea and air ports to EU member Cyprus, under a customs union pact it signed with the bloc last year.

Reform pledge

The ministers agreed that talks should be suspended in areas touching on trade, transport, financial services and agriculture, but not others.

"Whatever the EU says, the reform process in Turkey will continue," said Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, quoted by the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday.

"Economic and democratic reforms must be achieved with courage and determination," he said.

Membership will bring many strategic benefits to both Turkey and Europe
Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu, Istanbul, Turkey

The EU decision includes no ultimatums, or deadlines by which Turkey must have opened its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic, the BBC's Jonny Dymond reports from Brussels.

"There has been no train crash - the train is still firmly on track. Eight chapters have been suspended - 27 out of 35 are not frozen, and there is every prospect that things will work steadily and effectively to make Turkey, in the fullness of time, a member of the European Union," said UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

The ministers also reiterated a promise to end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community - but left the details to be worked out next year.

Talks on Turkey's bid to join the EU began last year, after Ankara promised to allow Cypriot ships and aircraft to use its ports and airports.

The foreign ministers' decision will be endorsed formally at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

Analysis of Turkey's faltering EU bid

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