"Mideast hails Turkish advance that could bring EU to its doorstep
The European Union�s decision to give Muslim-majority Turkey a date for membership talks has drawn a warm welcome from Middle Eastern states keen to see the wealthy European club expand to their doorstep.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan returned from Brussels to a hero�s welcome after obtaining the date -- October 3, 2005 -- for the launch of the negotiations.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abul-Gheit welcomed the prospect of Turkey�s integration into the economic superpower, which already counts 25 countries and 455 million inhabitants. Turkey�s accession would bring Europe to Arab borders and Turkey would become the only Muslim country in the EU. Europe on the borders of Syria and Iraq would give a new dimension to Euro-Mediterranean relations�.
Turkey still needs to undertake great efforts to match membership criteria, improve its human rights record, resolve its dispute over Cyprus and overcome widespread Turcoscepticism among member countries."
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