Eventual EU accession will require that Turkey "makes all the efforts necessary to adhere to all of our values, our principles," Chirac said at a news conference.
"For her, it is a considerable effort. It is a major cultural revolution" that will take "at minimum ten to fifteen years."
In such a situation, he warned, "love can turn to hate or something close to hate." Opening EU membership talks with Turkey offered an "unmissable" opportunity to build links between the West and the Muslim world, he said.
Chirac warned that Turkey could be pushed toward Islamic fundamentalism if Europe slammed the door.
Accepting Turkey would bring "considerable power which gives Europe the necessary dimension to exist in the world of tomorrow" _ where growing powers like China, India and Russia will have a considerable sway.
Chirac reiterated that Turkey's accession to the 25-nation bloc would need to be approved by the French in a referendum. AM
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election