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US Hawk Wants Turkey in EU

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US hawk wants Turkey in EU

Richard Norton-Taylor

Tuesday December 3, 2002

The Guardian

A leading hawk in the Bush administration hailed Turkey yesterday as a democracy which could be a model for other Muslim countries - including a post-Saddam Iraq - and said the continued exclusion of the country from the European Union was "unthinkable".

Paul Wolfowitz, America's deputy defence secretary, said it was "impossible to overstate how decisive" the next two weeks would be for relations between Turkey, a key US ally, and the west. They were of "huge strategic importance", he said.

Mr Wolfowitz, who delivered a keynote speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, was referring to the recent election victory of Turkey's AK party which has a strong Islamist identity, and next week's European summit in Copenhagen where the US insists the EU must open the way to Turkish membership.

Turkey was facing "a defining moment in its relationship with Europe and the west", he said. An EU which welcomed Turkey would be "stronger, safer, even more richly diverse than it is today", said Mr Wolfowitz. "The alternative, exclusionary, choice is surely unthinkable", he added.

Turkey demonstrated that a democratic system was "indeed compatible with Islam" and it could "also serve as an inspiration to Iraq", he said.

Mr Wolfowitz, who met the exiled group the Iraqi National Congress in London, is meeting officials in the Turkish capital, Ankara, today on the heels of the foreign secretary, Jack Straw. He made it clear that Turkey would provide a base in any US-led military invasion of Iraq.

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