Portugal assumes leadership of the EU, Turkey's eligibility changes
( Cihan ) - As of July 1st, Portugal takes the responsibility of leading the EU's rotating office of president. Portugal takes over from Germany, which has had the EU presidency since the beginning of the year.
The Portuguese Prime Minister, Jose Socrates, said talks aimed at eventually bringing Turkey into the Union should continue despite French opposition. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has repeatedly vowed, both while campaigning and as French president, to block Turkish membership.
Socrates was quoted as saying "We must be first and foremost loyal at what we pledged to do. The most important thing is that we should be loyal in these negotiations. We should be balanced and moderate."
The EU delayed opening talks last month with Turkey in the area of economic and monetary policy after France signaled that it would veto such a move.
"I have to defend Europe's prestige and credibility," Socrates said, adding the EU had already opened membership negotiations with Turkey and should carry on with them.
Sarkozy had agreed not to raise the issue of Turkish accession during Germany's EU presidency.