BERLIN, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- As German Chancellor Angela Merkel headed for Turkey on Sunday for her two-day visit, people in the two countries watch closely what she called a new chapter in talks on Turkey's membership of the European Union.
In her weekly video message issued on the eve of the visit, Merkel said that, despite her reservations about Turkish membership, she is in favor of continuing negotiations with Ankara on the country's EU ambitions as she meets President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the visit.
"A long path of negotiations lies ahead of us. Although I'm sceptical, I agreed on open-ended talks over Turkish membership of the European Union," Merkel said.
Turkey is one of Germany's key non-EU trading partners and as many as 3 million Turkish citizens live in Germany.
Merkel ruffled feathers in Ankara when she raised the concept of "privileged partnership with EU" instead of full membership for Turkey in early years in her office as chancellor. However, in recent years, Merkel has given indications that she wants to bring Turkey closer to the EU.
Turkey launched its formal EU accession talks in 2005, but its ambition of joining the bloc have been frustrated in recent years due to dispute with Cyprus and opposition from other EU member states including France.
However, Turkey's bid for EU membership gains fresh momentum recently. Of the 35 so-called policy chapters EU candidates must negotiate, France used to block five chapters. But incumbent French President Francois Hollande has modified the French position on the issue.