Turkey sees EU membership as 'strategic aim'

Turkey regards the EU membership as a "strategic aim", Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Thursday.

"As Turkey, we see EU membership as a strategic aim. However, in recent years, not much progress has been made in this regard due to several reasons.

"We want to overcome these troubles, open a new page and want to ensure new chapters to be opened," Kalın told France 24.

Turkey had applied for EU membership in 1987 and the accession talks began in 2005.

However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration in the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.

To gain membership, Turkey has to successfully conclude negotiations on 35 policy chapters that involve reforms and the adoption of European standards.

As of May 2016, 16 chapters had been opened and one concluded. However, in December 2016, the member states said no new chapters would be opened.

Kalın's remarks came a day before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to the capital Paris.

He said Erdoğan and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron will discuss regional and bilateral issues, including Syria.

"As the works for a political transition [in Syria] continue, we try to get closer to the processes of Astana and Geneva and to place them under the umbrella of the UN," Kalın said.

He also said the issues pertaining to security conditions in Iraq and fight against terrorism will be discussed in Paris.

Erdogan announced on Saturday that he will visit France on Friday after a gap of two years.

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