Britain vows to stick up for Turkey

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Britain vows to stick up for Turkey

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Britain is vowing to fight for Turkey to join the European Union, in the face of resistance from other EU states.

Prime Minister David Cameron made the pledge during a visit to Ankara.

France is one of those strongly opposed to Turkish membership.

But Cameron said he would remain Ankara’s “strongest possible advocate for membership”, saying it was something he felt strongly and passionately about.

He told an audience of business leaders: “When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan alongside our European allies it makes me angry that your progress towards European membership can be frustrated in the way that it has been.

“My view is clear: I believe it’s just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit in the tent. Together I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels.”

Cameron dismissed opponents of Turkish EU membership as either “protectionists”, the “prejudiced, who misunderstand Islam”, or what he calls the “polarised”, who think Ankara should “choose between East and West”.

He also stressed the importance of Turkey’s potential to influence impasses such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran’s nuclear programme.