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Turkey’s stalled EU membership talks must move forwards, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Tuesday.

“We hope that these negotiations would progress in the areas on which Turkey is ready,” he told lawmakers in the National Assembly.

He added: “Turkey is a big country. It is a strategic partner of France and the EU, an ally for the transatlantic alliance.”

Valls was the latest European politician to speak out on Turkey’s renewed thrust to join the 28-nation bloc as it seeks Turkish assistance in dealing with the refugee crisis encompassing Europe.

“Therefore we must continue the dialogue with Turkey and support it in its efforts to host refugees,” Valls said. “The refugee crisis that we have in Europe will be even more dramatic and more serious if the EU does not help Turkey financially and politically.”

As EU leaders strike deals to provide Turkey with financial support for the 2.2 million refugees it hosts, Ankara is hoping for a speeding up of the accession process initiated in 1987 as well as visa-free travel in Europe.

Valls dismissed the notion of bargaining over the refugee situation.

“The question of Turkey’s EU accession remains a long-term perspective that will, in time, be approved by the French people,” he said. “So there can be no bargaining, no blackmail but [there is a] need to aid Turkey.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Istanbul on Sunday for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said Germany was ready to open discussions about economic and monetary policy.

France has often been portrayed as an opponent of Turkey’s EU membership. In 2007, then President Nicolas Sarkozy said Turkey had “no place inside the European Union.”


SOURCE: http://www.turkishweekly.net/2015/10/21/news/french-premier-backs-turkeys-eu-bid/

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