French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says negotiations that could lead to European Union membership for Turkey will likely not begin before late 2005 or early 2006.
Mr. Barnier made the comments in an interview published Wednesday by the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro.
EU leaders are expected to agree to membership negotiations with Turkey at a summit next month.
Opinion surveys show that public opinion in many EU countries is sharply divided on the question of Turkish membership. French President Jacques Chirac says he supports Turkish membership, but has promised to put the question to a referendum in his country.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters.