Turkey's European Union (EU) chief negotiator said on Saturday that the EU could not solve its problems without Turkey. Turkish State Minister Egemen Bagis said that the problems EU was facing today could not be solved without Turkey's membership.

"Turkey's EU membership process cannot last for 20-30 years," Bagis told reporters after meeting Pierre Lellouche, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, in Istanbul.

Both ministers are participating in the Sixth Bosphorus Conference on "Turkey and the EU: Regaining Momentum."

The British Council, Delegation of the European Commission to Turkey, and the Foundation for Economic and Social Studies of Turkey (TESEV) are jointly organizing the high-level conference on October 16-17.

"If Turkey gets prepared for this big appointment, the political conjuncture will make Turkey's membership obligatory because the problems the EU is facing today cannot be solved without Turkey's membership," Bagis said.

Bagis defined the recent progress report, released by the European Commission, as the most comprehensive report that appreciated Turkey's reforms so far.

Also, Bagis said that he would visit the Greek capital of Athens on November 5 under the instruction of Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan and hoped that Turkish-Greek relations would be revived.

Bagis said that Turkish and Greek governments were backed by their peoples, which he defined as an opportunity to boost bilateral relations and friendship.

Also speaking to reporters, Lellouche said that France told Turkish President Abdullah Gul during his visit to Paris that it had mobilized for fighting against the terrorist organization PKK together with Turkey.

Lellouche also said that France had caught many links of the terrorist organization PKK, which enhanced Turkish-French relations.
The French secretary said Egemen Bagis and he decided to set up a working group to boost bilateral relations.
Lellouche said Turkey should go on its membership negotiations with the EU.

Eight chapters related with Cyprus were under Turkey's responsibility, except the five chapters blocked by France, he said.
Lellouche also said France was a friend of Turkey, and there was no Turkish enmity in France.

The secretary said one million French people were visiting Turkey every year, and France was the second country investing in Turkey.
Also, Lellouche defined Gul's visit to France as a turning point, and suggested that two countries should cooperate more.
Lellouche said that no one could guess about the day when Turkey's EU accession process would be completed.

The French secretary said there was an independent institution in France that was dealing with asylum request of Turkish businessman and politician Cem Uzan.

Lellouche said France was a state of law, and a decision about individual asylum should not be regarded and perceived political.
Turkey became an EU candidate country in December 1999. The union launched accession talks with Turkey on October 3, 2005.