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    Gul: No grudge against Austria

    Hürriyet Haber
    08.10.2005 - 11:57 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkey holds no grudge against Austria for nearly scuppering the opening of its accession talks with the European Union and is grateful to France for supporting Ankara's bid despite its own doubts," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Friday. "What happened is left behind. A compromise was reached at the end and Austria also agreed to what we were asking for... so we should now look at cooperation," Gul told NTV television when asked about Austria's objections that delayed the opening of accession talks with Turkey on Tuesday.

    Gul said he foresees no problems in Turkey's ties with the EU after Austria takes over the bloc's rotating presidency from Britain at the end of the year.

    "I believe Austria will make more efforts once it takes over the presidency because it will have to prove its impartiality," he said. "Now that we have succeeded (in opening the talks) we should look forward and leave those (bad) feelings behind."

    Austria, whose public opinion is overwhelmingly against Turkey's entry into the EU, insisted that Ankara be offered an option other than full membership before dropping its objections.

    Gul said that France, which is also under strong domestic pressure against Turkish membership, had actually helped Turkey's bid during the arduous wrangling in Luxembourg.

    "France is one of the driving forces of the EU and if France had really said 'no' we would not have been able to start the negotiations," Gul said. "They really helped us in Luxembourg."

    The minister added that he understood the domestic political concerns of the French leadership.

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