Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Tuesday that Turkey's eventual membership in the European Union would be good for all sides, boosting their economies and creating a crucial tie between Europe and the Muslim world.
Turkey formally began membership talks with the EU last week, after the 25-nation bloc's foreign ministers held two days of discussions to overcome objections from Austria.
"There is no doubt that Turkey and Europe as a whole will benefit from this decision in equal measure," Straw said. "For Turkey it represents another significant step on its long journey to becoming a fully European nation" and will provide an impetus for further improvements on human rights and democracy, the AP reports.
Turkey is an important market for EU goods and a partner in the fight against international terrorism, Straw said.
Straw said EU governments would have to explain the benefits of Turkish membership to their own people. He blamed opposition in some EU countries nations on their economic problems, saying people often blamed foreigners when their own economies were weack. A.M.