Turkish Prime Minister tells Merkel to avoid 'historic mistake' on Turkey's EU bid

Iran Materials 5 December 2006 15:02 (UTC +04:00)

(AFP) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he had told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that European Union leaders should avoid "a historic mistake" when they discuss Turkey's membership bid next week.

"I spoke this morning (over the phone) to Chancellor Merkel and... reminded her what the costs of a wrong step could be," Erdogan said Tuesday in a speech in parliament to his Justice and Development Party, reports Trend.

"I told her that we hope such a historic mistake will not occur at the summit of EU leaders on December 14-15," he said.

EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on December 11 to discuss a European Commission recommendation to partially freeze membership negotiations with Turkey because of Ankara's refusal to grant trade priviliges to Cyprus.

If they fail to reach a decision, the issue is expected to be put on the agenda of an EU summit three days later.

Merkel wants the EU to give Turkey 18 months to open its ports to Cyprus as a condition for resuming full membership talks.

She will seek backing for the proposal from French President Jacques Chirac when the two meet Tuesday in the western German city of Mettlach, a German government spokesman said.