Arriving in Turkey today, President Barack Obama gave his unreserved support to the nation’s bid to join the European Union. Obama’s comments were likely a conciliatory effort after Turkey finally gave its consent to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO’s next Secretary-General. Rasmussen had made plenty of enemies in the Turkish government, not the least of which because of his opposition to Turkey’s EU bid.
Yet Obama’s support, which he said would be an important commitment to improving relations with the Muslim world, was not without consequences, as his comments sparked a clash with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In an interview on French television, President Sarkozy insisted that it was up to the European Union to make any decisions on membership, and that he was, and remained, in opposition to Turkish membership. Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership for nearly a decade, but a large number of outstanding issues have prevented them from gaining membership.
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