Berlin backs Turkeyin row over EU

21st November 2003, Comments 0 comments

21 November 2003 , BERLIN - The German government said Friday it would continue to support Turkey's efforts to join the European Union despite opposition calls for a rethink following the Istanbul car bombs. Government spokesman Thomas Steg rejected opposition claims the European Union could be importing a terrorist problem in accepting Turkey as a member. He warned the opposition against "negligently instrumentalizing" the attacks, saying centre-right politicians were arguing against Turkey's EU bid on "t

21 November 2003

BERLIN - The German government said Friday it would continue to support Turkey's efforts to join the European Union despite opposition calls for a rethink following the Istanbul car bombs.

Government spokesman Thomas Steg rejected opposition claims the European Union could be importing a terrorist problem in accepting Turkey as a member.

He warned the opposition against "negligently instrumentalizing" the attacks, saying centre-right politicians were arguing against Turkey's EU bid on "transparent party political grounds".

The government supports the EU membership process for Turkey "with all emphasis". Prospects of EU membership will help stability and democracy in Turkey and could provide a "bridge and model function" for the Middle East region, Steg said.

Germany's interior minister, Otto Schily, said late Thursday the Istanbul attacks showed the need for closer cooperation with Turkey and for negotiations offering prospects for membership of the European Union.

"The answer to what has happened in Istanbul can only be that we cooperate more closely with Turkey," he told ZDF television.

However, centre-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) politicians said the attacks were a further reason to oppose Turkey's EU membership.

Wolfgang Bosbach, the CDU's deputy parliamentary group chairman, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "A swift EU membership (for Turkey) would import the terror problem into the union."

Ingo Friedrich, the CSU vice-president of the European Parliament, told Deutschlandradio that Islamist extremists could step up their terror campaign if "a core country of the Islamic world was broken off and forced into the West".

Turkey, a member of NATO, has been a recognized candidate to join the European Union since December 1999.

EU leaders will assess Turkey's progress on introducing democratic and human rights reforms in December 2004 before deciding when it may open accession negotiations.

The head of the Islamic Council in Germany meanwhile Friday condemned the terrorist car bombs in Istanbul, saying there was no justification in Islamic teaching for the attacks.

"Whoever carries out such attacks in the name of Islam abuses and damages the religion," Ali Kizilkaya told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa in Bonn.

Kizilkaya said Moslems living in Germany were also deeply affected by Thursday's attacks. He added they only served to feed prejudices against Islam although the religion was one of peace, humanity and tolerance.

The perpetrators of the attacks were "an insult to Islam", he said.

DPA
Subject: German news







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