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Turkey, EU Blame Each Other for Slow Pace of EU Accession Talks

Turkey and the European Union are blaming each other for the slow pace of negotiations on possible Turkish EU entry.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan Tuesday in Brussels criticized one unnamed EU state for questioning whether Turkey belongs in the trade bloc. He said raising the issue is muting public enthusiasm in Turkey for wide-ranging reforms.

Babacan is widely believed to have been referring to France, whose president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has voiced reservations about granting full EU membership to Turkey, a largely Muslim country.

For his part, EU Expansion Commissioner Olli Rehn said key disputes over divided Cyprus are stalling the pre-membership talks. He said talks with the Ankara government on Cyprus-related issues will not open until Turkey allows Greek planes and ships access to Turkish ports and airports.

Analysts say a bid by opposition Turkish secularists to close down the country's ruling party for alleged Islamist activities is also raising European doubts about Turkey's willingness to meet EU standards for political tolerance.

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