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Last Updated: Monday, 25 June 2007, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
France snubs Turkey on EU talks
Mosque in Istanbul
Turkish enthusiasm for joining the EU has already been sinking
The European Union is to start membership talks with Turkey this week in only two new areas instead of three, because of France's opposition.

Diplomats say France made clear its reservations, so the question was not discussed at a meeting of ambassadors in Brussels.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Turkey has no place in the EU.

Germany, the current EU president, had intended to open talks with Turkey in three new areas before 30 June.

Privileged partnership

Talks have already begun in two areas - science and research, and enterprise and industry policy, and will begin in another two areas - statistics and financial control - on Tuesday.

Applicants for EU membership have to complete membership negotiations in a total of 35 areas, known as chapters - a process that is expected to take at least 10 years in Turkey's case.

Mr Sarkozy is leading efforts to set limits to future EU enlargement at a summit in December.

He argues that Turkey should be offered a "privileged partnership", rather than full membership.

Ankara unhappy

A Turkish official quoted by the Reuters news agency said Ankara was "unhappy" with the delay in opening the economic and monetary policy chapter of negotiations.

The BBC's Dominic Hughes in Brussels says there are fears the move will further weaken Turkish enthusiasm for joining the EU, which has already dramatically collapsed.

However, Turkey's chief EU negotiator, Economy Minister Ali Babacan, said earlier on Monday that Turkey would integrate its legislation with the EU's as soon as possible, "regardless of what chapters are opened".

The EU suspended negotiations on eight chapters last year, after Turkey failed to open its ports and airports to traffic from EU-member Cyprus.




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