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Turkey's EU bid a long dream, says Solana

Turkey's EU bid a long dream, says Solana

The European Union must liberalize its visa regime with Turkey before the country’s accession to the bloc, because Turkey’s membership will take a long time to achieve, a former top EU diplomat has said. “I don’t know [whether visa liberalization will occur before or after membership], but since the accession process will be long, I hope that it will happen before,” prominent European diplomat Javier Solana told the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday. Solana, a former EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, spoke to the paper after a press meeting where a Council of Europe report on diversity was launched. “It is not going to be done in 24 hours. This is a long, long process. Turkey is a very important country, it is a very big country that has a very fast-growing economy. (...) [The EU] is not bringing in a small country. It is an important country with a foreign policy, with 70 million people, with an economy that is growing faster than the European average.” he said. Solana also said Turkey’s EU membership would benefit all parties. “I think that we need each other. [Turkey] need Europe, and Europe needs [Turkey],” he said. “I would like very much [for negotiations] to go faster. We lost the second part of 2010. I hope that in 2011 there will be [new] chapters open. I hope that the chapter on competition, which is an important one, will move faster in 2011,” Solana said.