Turkey called ‘example for Islamic world’

ROME (AFP) – Turkey’s bid to join the European Union is an example for the Islamic world, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said yesterday, underscoring the need for the 25-member European bloc to support Muslim forces that want to modernize their institutions. «Turkey, a secular state home to Muslims who want to join the European Union, will be an example for the Islamic world,» he told a press conference. «We have the duty to stimulate forces in the Islamic world that want to modernize their institutions, but do not accept a model imposed in a paternalistic way.» Describing Turkey as a «key country» for Europe, Frattini said Ankara would be required during entry talks to meet European standards, «notably in the area of human rights, one of the most delicate issues of the negotiation.» Last month EU leaders reached a deal setting October 3, 2005 as the start date for negotiations with Ankara on adhesion, but also laying down many conditions. Frattini said the upcoming opening of EU entry negotiations with Turkey would be one of the key factors in reviving the dialogue between the EU and Mediterranean countries. «The Euro-Mediterranean partnership launched 10 years ago in Barcelona did not meet expectations and we need to relaunch this process,» the EU commissioner said. Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister, was in Rome to present a series of conferences on the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue sponsored by the Mediterranean Forum, which he heads. The first will be held at the Italian Foreign Ministry headquarters here on Friday. Nine others will follow on a monthly basis. «We want to use dialogue to eradicate seeds of intolerance in Europe which turn into hostility and block integration,» Frattini said. The Euro-Mediterranean partnership, which since 1995 has pushed cooperation between the EU and 12 partners, includes the 25-nation union plus Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.