ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
The prime minister has decided to participate in Sunday's highly symbolic summit to create a union for Mediterranean countries because his presence there most appropriately represents Turkey's status as a country with significant weight in the region, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday. Burak Özügergin told reporters at a weekly press conference that Turkey's concerns regarding the French-led project had been removed to a great extent, referring to a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a fierce opponent of Turkish membership in the European Union.
Özügergin said the details of the Union for the Mediterranean, including the establishment of a secretariat, were not yet clear, adding that another ministerial-level meeting would be held in autumn when the project would be further clarified.
Meanwhile, the French National Assembly passed an amendment package that requires a referendum on Turkey's membership in the EU, the Anatolia News Agency reported from Paris. The package will be submitted to the Senate, France's upper chamber, next week. According to the amendment, the French president will have the authority to decide if the country's parliament can approve or not the membership of an EU-candidate country on the condition that two-thirds of the parliament and the Senate make such a demand. The package is expected to take its final shape during a session bringing together the members of National Assembly and the Senate.
Sarkozy insisted yesterday in Strasbourg that the EU would not be able to accept any new members without passing the Lisbon Treaty that Irish voters rejected last month.
�If we want further enlargement, and I want it, we need new institutions,� Sarkozy was quoted as saying at the European Parliament, claiming that an EU with more than its current 27 members could not function without changes to the way it was run. �Europe cannot take in all the people who want to come to Europe,� he added.
Ankara pleased with statements from Armenia
Özügergin expressed Ankara's pleasure yesterday with statements made by the Armenian president in an article he wrote in The Wall Street Journal's online edition this week.
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan proposed a fresh start with Turkey with the goal of normalizing ties and re-opening the closed border.
Asked if President Abdullah Gül would respond positively to his Armenian counterpart's offer to watch a football game in Yerevan, Özügergin said the offer was being evaluated.
The spokesman also announced that comprehensive foreign policy meetings would be held at the Turkish Foreign Ministry beginning on July 15, with the participation of Turkey's ambassadors from all over the world. The meetings will last four days.