Gates accuses EU of pushing Turkey away from West
LONDON - Agence France-Presse | 6/9/2010 12:00:00 AM |
The EU’s refusal refusal to accept Turkey as a member has partly caused a shift in Ankara’s foreign policy and affected its relations with Israel, the US Defense Secretary says.
The European Union’s refusal to accept Turkey as a member has partly caused a shift in Ankara’s foreign policy and a deterioration in relations with Israel, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.
Israeli-Turkish relations, which had already become strained in recent years, hit new lows following a deadly raid last week by Israeli commandos on a Gaza aid flotilla. The attack left eight Turkish citizens and one U.S. citizen of Turkish origin dead.
The "deterioration" in the relationship between Turkey and Israel is "a matter of concern," Gates told reporters in London.
Opposition in some European capitals to Turkey's bid to join the EU had helped push it away from the West, Gates said, adding that some in Europe had refused to give Ankara "the kind of organic link to the West Turkey seeks."
Turkey began EU membership talks in 2005, but the following year Brussels froze talks in eight of the 35 chapters that candidate countries must successfully negotiate prior to accession.
That followed Turkey's refusal to implement a protocol to open its air and sea ports to Greek Cyprus, an EU member state, until the EU moves on its pledge to ease the international isolation of the island's breakaway Turkish-held north.
Sluggish domestic reform and disquiet among some EU-member states over allowing the largely Muslim nation into the bloc have also been cited as reasons behind opposition.