Germans back Turkish EU membershipas Paris calls for vote

1st October 2004, Comments 0 comments

1 October 2004 , BERLIN - A majority of Germans say Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union and view the country's Moslem faith as less of a concern than rule of law issues, a poll released Friday showed. The ARD TV survey showed 55 per cent of Germans back Turkish European Union membership over the "medium or long term" with 41 percent being opposed. Earlier this month a different poll by the Emnid Agency showed the exact opposite with 57 percent saying "no" to Turkey joining the EU and just

1 October 2004  

BERLIN - A majority of Germans say Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union and view the country's Moslem faith as less of a concern than rule of law issues, a poll released Friday showed.

The ARD TV survey showed 55 per cent of Germans back Turkish European Union membership over the "medium or long term" with 41 percent being opposed.

Earlier this month a different poll by the Emnid Agency showed the exact opposite with 57 percent saying "no" to Turkey joining the EU and just 34 percent in favour.

Interestingly, the new ARD poll shows 25 percent of Germans naming Islam as a concern linked to Turkish EU membership, while 27 percent said their main worry was Turkey's adherence to rule of law.

The ARD poll surveyed 1,000 people.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is a strong supporter of Turkish EU membership but the country's main opposition Christian Democratic alliance is mainly - but not entirely - opposed.

Turks comprise the biggest foreign minority in Germany, numbering about 1.9 million out of a total population of 82 million.

The European Commission is due to issue a report next week on whether the EU should begin membership negotiations with Turkey. E.U. leaders will make a final decision at their Brussels summit 17 to 18 December.

Even if talks for membership are approved, most observers predict Turkey would not join the EU before 2015.

In a related development, French President Jacques Chirac said Friday he wanted to hold a nationwide referendum on EU membership.

At a news briefing in the French city of Strasbourg after talks with Chancellor Schroeder, Chirac said a referendum would not need be held in the near future, since the process of Turkey's eventual E.U. membership will take "10 or 15 years".

Chirac says he backs Turkish EU membership.

Schroeder said that the question could only be put before voters or parliamentarians "when the time is ripe".

In France, Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Michel Barnier recently urged that a referendum be held on the issue, while a recent poll showed a substantial majority of French adults against having Turkey in the Union.

Both leaders also praised the decision of the Russian government to back ratification of the Kyoto protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

"This was essential for everyone interested in the environment," Schroeder noted. "I congratulate Russian President (Vladimir) Putin on taking this step."

The bilateral summit was part of the so-called Blaesheim consultations, inaugurated in 2001 to give new impetus to Franco-German relations.

It was to be followed by a working lunch, where other international issues, such as the Mideast and Iraq, will be addressed.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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