GeriGündem US lawmakers urge President Obama to back Turkey's EU bid
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US lawmakers urge President Obama to back Turkey's EU bid

US lawmakers urge President Obama to back Turkey's EU bid
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ISTANBUL - U.S. lawmakers urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday to strongly support Turkey's accession to the European Union and the NATO ally's reconciliation with Armenia. (UPDATED)

"The United States must remain an iron clad supporter of Turkish membership in the EU," AFP quoted 29 Democrats and Republicans from the House of Representatives as saying in a letter to Obama, who will visit Turkey on Sunday.    

The U.S. lawmakers urged the president to help the Turkish government undertake the necessary political, economic and judicial reforms to join the 27-member bloc.

"We believe Turkey's success as a secular democracy that fully respects the rule of law and guarantees freedoms, civil, religious and human rights are in the interest of the Turkish people, the European Union and the United States," they said.

Turkey began EU accession talks in 2005, but it has so far opened discussions on only 10 of the 35 policy areas that candidates must successfully negotiate. One of the main stumbling blocks has been a trade row over Cyprus and opposition from some bloc members.

The U.S. lawmakers also thanked Turkey for its support in stabilizing Afghanistan, including hosting three-way talks with Pakistan, and for U.S.-led efforts to build democracy in Iraq, AFP reported.

Turkey-Armenia thaw

In the letter, the congressmen also urged "unequivocal" U.S. support for Turkey and Armenia's efforts at normalizing their bilateral relations.

Representatives Robert Wexler, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ike Skelton, the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, and Alcee Hastings, co-chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, were among the group who penned the letter, according to the Anatolia news agency.

A group of U.S. lawmakers, including Wexler, Skelton and Hastings, had expressed readiness to help Turkey and Armenia's tie-boosting efforts in another letter they sent to the presidents of the two countries earlier this week.

Ankara and Yerevan have agreed on the major parameters of a historic reconciliation in secret talks to start diplomatic relations and re-open their shared border, which Turkey closed in 1993 after Armenia occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region, sources have told Hurriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

The letter also praised Obama's visit to Turkey, the Anatolia news agency reported.

"The visit will be a historic opportunity to improve one of the most strategic partnerships of the U.S. and to renew a 60 year-old friendship, mutual respect and ties based on common goals," the letter was quoted by the agency as saying.

"We believe that Turkey will continue to be a leading partner in the future political, economic and security achievements of Iraq. Turkey can also play a role in a safe and effective withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq, provided that all sides agree," the letter said.

 

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