Czech president backs Turkey's EU bid

Czech president backs Turkey's EU bid Prague  - Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country chairs the European Union until June 30, Wednesday backed Turkey's aspirations to join the 27-member bloc.

"I would like to repeat and resolutely and loudly say that the Czech Republic is on the side of those who support Turkey's entry to the EU," Klaus said after meeting his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Prague.

US President Barack Obama recently called on the EU to accept the southeastern European country of 71.5 million. But Turkey's accession talks with the EU have been stalled over France's persistent opposition to its EU membership.

The negotiations have been also hindered by Ankara's refusal to recognize the Greek part of Cyprus, an island state in the Mediterranean which has joined the EU five years ago. The island has been divided between its Turkish and Greek populations since 1974.

In the four years since Turkey's accession negotiations started in 2005, talks began on 10 of 35 chapters, which must be completed before the country's EU entry.

Klaus, a vocal EU critic, belittled the negotiations that the EU conducts with candidates such as Turkey.

"Opening and closing chapters is a bureaucratic game. It is not a serious matter," he told reporters after meeting with Gul. "I think the political will is decisive."

Gul confirmed that a Turkish delegation is scheduled to travel to Prague for a May 8 EU summit, which is to tackle bloc's plans to bring Central Asian gas to Europe without crossing Russia.

Turkey is one of the key countries on the route of EU's planned Nabucco pipeline that would bypass Russia if built and diversify Europe's energy resources.

Gul said that the pipeline was "important" and an intergovernmental deal on the project would be soon signed.

The EU, however, has so far failed to secure sufficient supplies for the pipeline, facing a tough competition from Russia. (dpa)

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