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Turkey: Foreign Minister Criticizes EU For Preferring East

Ankara, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Turkish foreign minister Tansu Ciller has criticized the European Union for preferring East European countries as new members ahead of Turkey.

Ciller told reporters that Tukey has a far more advanced economy than most other candidates. She said leaving Turkey outside the EU would be unfair and a historic mistake. She was referring to a list of prospective members issued at last week's EU summit in Dublin, which contained the names of mainly East and Central European states but did not include Turkey.

Reporters say Ciller threatened to impede the eastward expansion of NATO, by saying that if the West wants to expand both the EU and NATO, "without Turkey's approval, do it if you can."

Ciller tomorrow flies to Russia, which is a strong opponent of NATO expansion.

A Turkish foreign ministry official says one item on her agenda will be energy. He said Turkey is pondering how to increase the capacity of the exisiting natural gas pipeline with Russia. He also said another, new pipeline might be needed to fill Turkey's increasing gas requirements.