Schroeder, a staunch supporter of Turkey's EU membership effort, assured Ankara on Wednesday that the bloc was determined to open accession talks with Turkey on schedule, on 3 October.

"The dynamics of reform should continue," Schroeder said after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. "The constitutional and other legal amendments should be put into practice.

"Religious freedom is a European principle," Schroeder said. "It is indisputable and is valid for Turkey as well. People should freely practise their religions."

Schroeder is scheduled to meet President Ahmet Necdet Sezer before heading to Istanbul later on Wednesday, where he will visit the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and attend a meeting of Turkish and German business people.