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EU, Turkey resume integration talks as France blocks expansion - 1

(Adds Greek president's opinion in paras 7-9)

BRUSSELS, June 26 (RIA Novosti) -- The European Union and Turkey opened membership talks in two policy areas Tuesday as France blocked a third 'chapter' for discussion.

The EU delegation at the talks is led by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country holds the EU presidency, and Olli Rehn, EU commissioner for enlargement, while the Turkish delegation is headed by Economy Minister Ali Babacan.

The two sides opened talks on statistics and financial control, but France vetoed negotiations on economic and monetary policy.

"We are not satisfied with the technical explanations provided to us so far and hope that [better] progress will be achieved during Portugal's EU presidency," Babacan said.

Even before he won presidential elections in France, Nicolas Sarkozy stated he opposed Turkey's EU membership, because it belongs "not in the European Union but a Mediterranean Union."

The EU-Turkey negotiating process, which started in October 2005, comprises 35 policy areas or chapters. Experts say membership talks could take anywhere between 10 and 15 years.

Greece's president, during a visit to Armenia, said Friday that Turkey should implement all EU conditions required for membership.

"The negotiating process on Turkey's admission to the EU started in 2005, and Greece has been a supporter from the start of the talks. However, the Turkish side should fulfill the main condition - respect the values that other EU countries follow, for example, Bulgaria and Romania - the latest countries to join the EU," Karolos Papoulias told journalists.

Papoulias said he hoped Turkey would resolve the issue of its "35,000 strong occupation force currently based on the territory of a sovereign EU member state [Cyprus]."

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