An antique beer mug presented to French President Jacques Chirac as an EU going-away present has drawn criticism from EU-hopeful Turkey for reportedly depicting an 18th century Ottoman defeat by the French.
French President Jacques Chirac leaves office after upcoming elections
"The European Union should concern itself with the future rather than the past," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül told reporters when asked about the mug.
"If the EU has a future vision, it should look to the future," he said. "Harping on the past does not befit the EU vision."
Turkish newspapers said that the mug depicted Napoleon's 1799 victory over Ottoman forces in Egypt and reflected hostility towards Turkey.
It was given to Chirac as a retirement gift by German Chancellor Angela Merkel at celebrations of the EU's 50th anniversary over the weekend.
Merkel is opposed to full membership for Turkey and has instead advocated a special partnership with the sizeable mainly Muslim country.
Mixed feelings about Turkey's accession
Turkish Foreign Minister Gül
Turkey's bid suffered a serious blow in December when the EU froze its membership talks in eight of the 35 policy areas that candidates are required to complete in response to Ankara's refusal to grant trade privileges to Cyprus.
Turkey had also complained before the weekend celebration that accession candidates like itself had not been being invited to the EU's 50th birthday party, saying "it would have been meaningful, in terms of demonstrating once again the unity of the European family."
This unity has given way to "enlargement fatigue" in countries like Germany where polls show there is little appetite to take on more members after the 12 mostly eastern European nations that have joined since 2004.
But other states like Ireland and Britain are in favor of newcomers joining the bloc, which has seen its population balloon to nearly 500 million since the founding Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.