(zaman) - Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi urged the Turkish government to carry on with reforms for Turkey's EU membership bid and warned that the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections should not cause any delay in the process.
2007 will be a difficult year вЂ¦ but we should be aware that Turkey's EU accession cannot be tied to such short-term targets, Prodi told a joint press conference after talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip ErdoДџan, on the first day of his two-day visit. We underlined that there is a need for great determination and reiterated that we should not deviate from the target we have set.
EU officials privately expressed concern that the upcoming presidential elections in May and parliamentary elections in November could shift the attention of the government from the EU-inspired reforms to domestic politics, reports Trend.
In December, the EU suspended accession talks with Turkey in eight of the 35 policy areas that candidates must complete in response to its refusal to grant trade privileges to Greek Cyprus under a customs union agreement.
Prodi also called on Turkey to act in a flexible manner on Cyprus, saying all sides should agree to compromise so that progress could be achieved.
ErdoДџan, for his part, said the EU should deliver on its pledge to ease isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey refuses to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus unless the EU takes steps for trade with the Turkish Cypriots.
Prodi, in an interview earlier in the day with NTV, gave sympathetic messages about Turkey's EU membership, saying, Turkey will be a priceless asset for the EU after it completes membership reforms, but adding that he did not think Turkey would join the 27-nation bloc any time soon.
Turkey's accession is unlikely in the short term but is possible in the middle or long term. It's risky to realize long-term tasks in the short term, he said.