Berlin rejects call for petitionagainst Turkey's EU membership

11th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 October 2004 , BERLIN/LUXEMBOURG - The German government on Monday rejected calls by opposition conservatives for a petition aimed at blocking Turkey's bid to join the European Union. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's deputy spokesman termed the idea "backward looking and divorced from the reality" as well as "narrow- minded". The spokesman, Hans-Hermann Langguth, noted that since 1963 Germany's conservative Christian Democratic (CDU) chancellors, Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, had both supported bringin

11 October 2004 

BERLIN/LUXEMBOURG - The German government on Monday rejected calls by opposition conservatives for a petition aimed at blocking Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's deputy spokesman termed the idea "backward looking and divorced from the reality" as well as "narrow- minded".

The spokesman, Hans-Hermann Langguth, noted that since 1963 Germany's conservative Christian Democratic (CDU) chancellors, Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, had both supported bringing Turkey closer to the European Union (EU).

Schroeder, a Social Democrat (SPD), has become one of the strongest European backers of Turkish E.U. membership.

In Luxembourg, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was equally scathing over conservative demands.

"This could cause immense damage to our foreign policy," said Fischer in remarks at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, adding: "The opposition is not showing the degree of responsibility needed in this case."

Most senior members of Germany's Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) want to keep Turkey out of the EU and instead propose to offer Ankara what is termed a "privileged partnership" outside the club. There are exceptions, however, such as former CDU defence minister Volker Ruehe who backs letting Turkey joining the Union.

Last week, the European Commission recommended the EU begin membership talks with Ankara. Leaders of the 25 EU member states will make a final decision at summit in Brussels on 17 December.

Even if accession negotiations are opened, as is widely expected, the process is expected to take years and Prime Minister Erdogan admitted earlier this month that it could take until 2019 before his country became a full EU member.

In a related development, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported a poll showing nearly 80 per cent of Turks living in Germany would not advise their fellow nationals to migrate to the country. The poll was part of a study by Bilgi University of Istanbul.

More than 50 percent of the 1,056 Turks surveyed felt "pessimistic" or "very pessimistic" concerning their future in Germany. Only 23 percent declared themselves "very optimistic" when thinking of the future.

Despite these warnings, the poll showed 71 percent of Turks in Germany believe that immigration to Europe will rise if Turkey joins the EU.

Grounds given for Turkish dissatisfaction in Germany include: conflicting values, cultural differences, discrimination and high unemployment.

The study found Turks in Germany were reacted by living in ghettos for protection and the researchers said this seemed to be fuelling rising religious orientation among the Turkish immigrant population.

There are about 2.5 million Turks in Germany, of whom 700,000 have taken up German citizenship. This is by far the biggest foreign community in Germany, which has a total population of 82 million.

Most of the Turkish population arrived in the 1960s and early 1970s to fill the gaps in former West Germany's labour market.

DPA

Subject: German news

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