Merkel stands by tougher EU line on Turkey

6th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 December 2006, Berlin (dpa) - Standing by her tough line on Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a high-level report by 2009 to judge Ankara's fitness for continuing European Union accession talks, an official said Wednesday. Merkel wants the soon-to-be 27 EU heads of state and government to be given a final say on whether Ankara is meeting standards set for membership, said government spokesman Thomas Steg. Steg said the German leader's stand has "a serious difference" to a European Commis

6 December 2006

Berlin (dpa) - Standing by her tough line on Turkey, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a high-level report by 2009 to judge Ankara's fitness for continuing European Union accession talks, an official said Wednesday.

Merkel wants the soon-to-be 27 EU heads of state and government to be given a final say on whether Ankara is meeting standards set for membership, said government spokesman Thomas Steg.

Steg said the German leader's stand has "a serious difference" to a European Commission proposal for a partial freeze on EU negotiations with Turkey because Brussels does not want to refer the issue back to EU leaders.

The European Commission - the EU's executive - last week recommended suspending talks on eight of the 35 chapters being negotiated for Turkish EU membership after Turkey refused to open its harbours and airports to ships and planes from EU member Cyprus.

A final decision on steps aimed at punishing Turkey over Cyprus is expected at an EU summit in Brussels on December 14 and 15. EU foreign ministers will also discuss Turkey moves at a Brussels meeting on December 11.

Seeking to block any automatic restarting of EU talks with Turkey, Merkel wants the commission to provide a special Turkey progress report by 2009 which would then be evaluated by all EU leaders, said Steg.

In a bid widely seen as dimming Turkey's EU chances, Merkel this week called for imposing a "revision clause" on Turkey meaning that even if Ankara meets EU demands there would still have to be a unanimous decision by all 27 member states to resume negotiations.

Germany's grand coalition government is badly split on Turkey.

Merkel, who belongs to the Christian Democratic party, opposes Turkish entry to the EU. But her Social Democratic coalition partner, including Foreign Ministry Frank-Walter Steinmeier, back Turkish EU membership.

Turkey, with a population of 70 million, would be the first mainly Muslim country in the EU if it is admitted to the bloc. Diplomats say that even if negotiations for EU entry go smoothly Turkish admission is not expected before 2020.

DPA

Subject: German news

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