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Turkey Criticizes EU Decision to Further Limit Entry Talks


Turkey has criticized the European Union for further restrictions placed on its membership talks, as the two sides opened discussions on two policy areas.

Turkish negotiator Ali Babacan says his country is not satisfied with the EU explanation for restricting the latest talks in Brussels to issues of statistics and financial control. He says other Islamic states are closely watching the EU approach to the membership aspirations of largely Muslim Turkey and will make appropriate conclusions.

EU officials Monday approved talks on the two issues, but blocked discussions on a third area, economic and monetary policy.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, says Tuesday's talks prove that Turkey's membership process remains on track.

There was no official explanation for Monday's change, but analysts note that France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has voiced firm opposition to Turkish EU membership.

EU enlargement issues must be approved by all 27 member-countries.

EU officials began membership talks with Turkey in October of 2005. But the union partially suspended negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas in December because of Ankara's refusal to grant access to its ports and airports by EU-member Cyprus. Turkey says it will not lift the ban until the union ends its isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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