Gul, Erdogan to visit EU capitals to help speed up negotiations
Seeking to speed up Ankara's European Union accession talks, Turkish leaders plan to pay leading EU capitals a visit in the runup to the European Commission's annual progress report on Turkey this November. President Abdullah Gul will visit France and Germany to hold talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German President Christian Wulff, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit London to see his British counterpart, David Cameron. Dates for the visits are in being set. While in London, Erdogan will urge British leaders to take stronger steps to resolve the Cyprus dispute, as Britain is, with Turkey and Greece, a guarantor power for the divided island, which was a British colony until 1960. Ankara has long called on Brussels to show consistency on Turkey's EU membership process, complaining of how the opening of a number of negotiation chapters have been blocked by countries and individuals for political reasons, not technical ones. Gul and Erdogan are expected to reiterate this message in their meetings with European leaders. The visits also aim at gaining support for the reform process in the wake of public approval of a package of constitutional changes earlier this month.