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Thread: Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle Pushes Turkey's EU Bid

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    Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle Pushes Turkey's EU Bid

    Wall street Journal

    BERLIN—German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on the European Union to step up its faltering talks with Turkey over the country's bid to join the bloc, saying Europe should send Ankara a positive signal in response to the country's latest political reforms.

    Mr. Westerwelle's call to deepen Europe's engagement with Turkey could put him at odds with other European countries, led by France and Austria, which are opposed to Turkey joining the EU and want a more limited association with the large, mainly Muslim nation.

    It could also reopen tensions with conservative supporters of Mr. Westerwelle's partner in power, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are also deeply skeptical about letting Turkey into the EU.

    "Nobody should rashly snub Turkey by slamming the door in its face after all its efforts," Mr. Westerwelle told The Wall Street Journal in his first interview as foreign minister with an international newspaper. Europe, he suggested, can't afford to underestimate the country's rising economic strength and strategic importance.

    In a referendum this month, Turkish voters approved a set of constitutional changes including amendments to strengthen individual rights and the authority of civilian courts over the military. The changes will also expand and reshape the country's top courts, currently bastions of secularist opposition to the country's Islamic-leaning ruling party. Critics fear the government will pack the courts.

    Despite such doubts, Mr. Westerwelle said Turkey's constitutional overhaul "is a step in the right direction," adding: "It shows that Turkey wants a European future and has a European perspective."

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    For me, they would need to give us Constantinople back for us to even consider it; and even then they should be turned down.

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