Posted on 06 November 2009
British foreign secretary David Miliband has put his weight behind Turkey’s EU bid to become a full member of the European Union, while visiting the country.
"Turkish accession to the European Union will be a tremendous benefit to Ankara and to the region," he said.
At a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara, Miliband called for a quick settlement to the Cyprus issue, a major obstacle in Turkey’s EU membership bid, according to the Anatolia news agency.
As well as the EU issue Miliband reportedly discussed UK/Turkish relations and regional developments whilst meeting with his opposite number and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey’s accession negotiations began in 2005, but have not progressed as well as one would have hoped. This is beginning to change according to Miliband:
"I actually think that… there is more commitment now to the fact that we have to honor our side of the bargain… than there was six months ago," he said in an interview with Hurriyet Daily News.
In the same interview Miliband also said that Turkey should take "brave steps" towards the European community, despite reports that they are moving away from the west with their foreign policy agenda. Both Turkey and the EU should make brave decisions and fulfil their commitments he said, including a fair accession process for Turkey from the Union.
He noted the membership negotiations were moving at a slower pace than either Turkey or Britain would like to see, adding that Britain "is committed to an open process with Turkey and the process has been kept open."