EU must uphold Turkey talks pledge: Commission

EU should pursue negotiations with Turkey for membership despite Merkel opposition to that goal, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

EU must uphold Turkey talks pledge: Commission
The European Union should pursue negotiations with Turkey for membership of the 27-bloc despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel's reaffirmation of opposition to that goal, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

"We think we should stick to this commitment. The European Commission advocates pursuing these negotiations," Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told a regular briefing.

Merkel reaffirmed in a speech to her Christian Democratic Union's party congress on Monday that she was opposed to Turkey joining the EU and called instead for a "privileged partnership" between the bloc and Ankara, echoing a view shared by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Laitenberger recalled that EU states had agreed unanimously in Oct 2005 to open negotiations with Ankara with a view to membership if it fulfilled criteria. The time to decide on membership would be at the conclusion of those talks, he said.

Merkel's speech to party faithful in the northern city of Hanover appeared intended to underline a clear policy difference on Turkey between her conservative CDU and her left-leaning junior coalition partners the Social Democrats.

It came before a raft of state elections in January and February.

EU diplomats said France was pushing to have the word "accession" eliminated in the context of negotiations with Turkey from a statement on the EU's enlargement policy due to be approved by the bloc's foreign ministers on Monday.

The diplomats said Paris was alone in its stance when EU ambassadors briefly discussed the issue last week and they would make another attempt to resolve the issue this week.

Ankara has firmly rejected the formula of an enhanced partnership with the EU and says it wants nothing short of membership.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Aralık 2007, 18:20
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