US' Clinton, EU's Ashton hail Turkey's global role
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week praised candidate country Turkey as "a partner" in dealing with regional and global challenges, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she appreciates its growing regional and global clout. The remarks by Ashton and Clinton were made on a special BBC program on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting. Clinton reiterated her country's support for Turkey's EU accession, and also addressed some members' reluctance about Turkey's accession, saying: "This is an area where we don't have a vote; the member states do. But we are very committed to working with Turkey. They're a very involved ally in NATO." She continued, "We have a great deal of bilateral business that we conduct with Turkey. And Turkey is becoming a much greater regional and global presence. Their economy is growing dramatically. They reach out to countries and try to influence behavior and policy on their own as well as in concert with us. So I think there's a lot that is still to be done, but we're deeply committed to that." For her part, Ashton said that Turkey's position is very important for her, saying, "They are a partner, in many cases, as we work together to look at some of the challenges we face regionally and internationally. And so from the perspective of looking at external relations, when I look at the countries with whom I need to have a strong relationship, Turkey is clearly one, for the reasons that Hillary has well expressed." She also stressed that she has been working with Turkey "on the basis of its being a candidate country."