Merkel asks EU leaders to hinder Turkey's EU bid

26th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 August 2005, BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Friday shrugged off calls from German opposition leader Angela Merkel for a "privileged partnership" with Turkey, saying negotiations with Ankara opening in October would focus on Turkish membership of the European Union.

26 August 2005

BRUSSELS - The European Commission on Friday shrugged off calls from German opposition leader Angela Merkel for a "privileged partnership" with Turkey, saying negotiations with Ankara opening in October would focus on Turkish membership of the European Union.

"The aim of the negotiations is the accession of Turkey," a Commission spokeswoman told reporters.

But the talks, set to open in Brussels on October 3, would be open-ended and their "outcome cannot be prejudged," the spokeswoman said.

The Commission's comments came after Merkel, the German centre-right leader with the best chance of becoming Chancellor at next month's election, asked all European conservative leaders to jointly hinder full E.U. membership for Turkey.

Instead, Merkel said, Ankara should be offered the "privileged partnership" proposed by her CDU/CSU alliance.

The letter, obtained Friday by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, said "We are firmly convinced that accession by Turkey would strain the E.U. politically, economically and socially and endanger the European integration process."

Recipients of the letter included Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel and prime ministers Dominique de Villepin of France, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands and Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg.

Copies were also forwarded to British Prime Minister Tony Blair as E.U. Council president and other recipients included leaders of Greece, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia and conservative Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The Commission said it was not clear if E.U. chief Jose Manuel Barroso had also received the note.

Polls predict that Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance and its chosen coalition partner, the Free Democrats, will win a majority at the September 18 general election and tip Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from power.

The letter comes only days before E.U. foreign ministers are set to meet in Britain for informal talks on a range of issues, including relations with Turkey.

Commission proposals for the opening of negotiations with Turkey issued in June this year say the talks will be based on Ankara's "own merits and the pace will depend on Turkey's progress in meeting the requirements for membership."

"The shared objective of the negotiations is accession. These negotiations are an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand," the proposals insisted.

The Commission added, however, that "if Turkey is not in a position to assume in full all the obligations of membership it must be ensured that Turkey is fully anchored in the European structures through the strongest possible bond."

DPA

Subject: German news

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