EU sees Turkey as major factor in future European military force

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

LONDON The European Union sees Turkey as a major military contributor to the continent's security.

A new report cites Turkey's large military as a reason to grant that country EU membership.

"With its large military expenditure and manpower, it has the material capacity to make a significant contribution to the EU security and defense policy," a European Commission report said.

Turkey plans to reduce its military of 700,000 over the next five years, Middle East Newsline reported. Ankara's military is one of the five largest in the world and Turkey has been deemed a leading procurer of weapons systems.

The EC report, scheduled for publication on Wednesday and part of an effort to prepare for an EU decision on accession in December, said the inclusion of Turkey would differ from previous efforts to enlarge the union.

The EC said Turkey's security and military potential was much greater than new members from Central and Eastern Europe.

"Turkey being a member would give the Union greater weight in regional and world affairs," the report said.

The report also said Turkey could play a key role in the modernization of the Middle East. The commission envisioned Ankara as being a bridge between Europe and the Islamic Middle East.

"As an ally of the United States, Turkey could play a bridging role in the discussion on reform and modernization in the Middle East area," the report said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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