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Turkey cannot join EU ‘at any cost,’ says UK


London : Turkey still has a great deal of work to do before it will be eligible to join the EU, according to Britain’s European Minister Chris Bryant.

Bryant said that the UK government was still strongly in favour of Turkey eventually joining the 27-nation group, but warned that Britain did not it to join “at any cost.”

Speaking during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday, he said it would be “good to have a secular, Muslim country in the European Union” as Britain did not belied it should be a “Christian club” as some have alleged.

But he added that there was “a great deal of work it still has to do on human rights and a range of elements of its legal system to ensure that the Turkey that joins the European Union can be a proper member of it.”

Quoting a line from the musical Guys and Dolls, the Europe minister said it was not a case of “Marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow”.

“That cannot be done with a country that is applying to join the European Union. We must be sure that the changes have been introduced before it joins,” he warned.

The debate focused on the rights of the Kurdish people in and around Turkey and Bryant said their fair treatment was one of the “key issues” that had to resolved.

He expressed concerns that the Turkish constitutional court recently closed the DTP, the Kurdish nationalist party, but added that the UK government supported the “tackling of the terrorist threat posed by the PKK.”

“It must be possible to distinguish between nationalism that depends on the use of violence and terrorism and believes in violent overthrow and the legitimate political aspirations of individuals who want to see a different political outlook,” Bryant said.

Former foreign office minister Meg Munn accused the British government of overlooking the Kurdish region of Iraq, “the most secure and successful region” of the country.

Munn, who has just returned from a trip to the region, warned that this was undermining the whole country’s renewal and hindering British commercial and political objectives.

“Politicians and businesspeople whom I met were mystified and disappointed by the British government’s behaviour since liberation,” she told MPs.

Bryant said that there was a “clear UK interest” in the region because the government wanted peace and stability in Iraq following British troops making an important contribution to the country’s stability and security.

“We want to ensure that we do not have to go back to Iraq. Ensuring that there is stability and long-term economic prosperity in the Kurdish region of Iraq is therefore vital,” he said.