French U-turn after elections, says minister

French U-turn after elections, says minister

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
French U-turn after elections, says minister

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France’s policy toward Turkey’s EU accession process will change regardless of the second round of the country’s presidential elections, European Union Minister Egemen Bağış said yesterday.

“It is not in the interest of both the Socialists and the Union for a Popular Movement [UMP] to be against Turkey’s EU membership, but it is against France’s national interest to be against Turkey’s EU membership with such strong language,” Bağış told journalists in a press conference in Istanbul.

“All the words said during the election period, including [Nicolas] Sarkozy’s attempts to visit the so-called [Armenian] genocide monument [for the] first time in French history at the presidential level. All these are efforts at political exploitation, all these will be left behind after the elections,” Bağış said.
Lifelong education through EU projects

In the press conference, Bağış also discussed the “lifelong learning and youth programs” of his ministry’s Education and Youth Programs Center Directorate.

As many as 250,000 Turks have been to European countries to receive education in different fields using the funds provided by the directorate, Bağış said.

“In 2012, 55,000 people will visit EU countries for training and experience without paying a dime. Our national agency spent 77.5 million euros in 2011 and 378.5 million euros in total for these kinds of projects,” the minister said.

Turkey has embraced the idea of becoming an EU member under every administration in the country’s history, said Bağış.

“People who risk their lives in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco see Turkey as an inspirational source and they want their country to be like Turkey. The reason for this is Turkey [is] a soft power with its democracy and EU reforms,” Bağış said.