Merkel steps up 'no' to Turkish EU membership
6 December 2004, DUESSELDORF - Germany's conservative opposition leader on Monday ratcheted up opposition to Turkish European Union membership with a warning that attempts to build a multi-cultural society with Turks already living in Germany had failed.
6 December 2004
DUESSELDORF - Germany's conservative opposition leader on Monday ratcheted up opposition to Turkish European Union membership with a warning that attempts to build a multi-cultural society with Turks already living in Germany had failed.
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) chief Angela Merkel slammed Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for "living a lie" with his suppport for Turkey in its bid to join the European Union (EU).
Turkey was geo-politically important, said Merkel in speech at a CDU party congress, but the key issue was whether it could be integrated into the 25-nation EU.
"The EU with Turkey will be a new EU," said Merkel who called for giving Ankara a status below full membership which she dubs "a privileged partnership."
Merkel - who is expected to be Schroeder's conservative challenger in Germany's 2006 general election - linked her comments on Turkish EU membership to a growing debate over the country's large foreign community - which includes about 3.4 million Moslems.
Basic legal rights must be maintained by all who wanted to live in Germany, said Merkel.
She said these included: learning the German language, education for children, and women's rights.
"The idea of a multi-cultural society cannot succeed," said Merkel to applause, adding: "It fails to integrate - it's living next to each other instead of with each other."
Merkel said Germany was based on Christian-Judaeo values and that these values had to apply to everybody living in the country.
She called for an end to tolerance for members of the Islamic community "preaching hate tirades."
"They must leave this nation," said Merkel.
Earlier in her speech, Merkel attacked Schroeder for policies she said had condemned the country to last place in the EU in terms of economic growth.
The Berlin government was responsible for economic stagnation and unemployment stuck at over 10 percent and rising, Merkel said.
"I am fed up with reading that we are the sick man of Europe," she said.
Merkel said Germany would have to ditch many of its comfortable policies, especially inflexible labour laws, to prevent jobs from being exported to eastern Europe.
Claims by Schroeder that Germany now has the most flexible labour force in the EU were dismissed by Merkel as "lies". Schroeder's left-leaning government is a coalition of his Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens.
Germany also needed more competition in its public health insurance system and a radically simplified tax law, said Merkel.
New government regulations were blocking the key gene technology and the chemicals sectors in Germany, warned Merkel.
She promised that if elected, her party's goal was to make Germany one of the top three economies in the EU for growth and low rates of unemployment within a decade.
"We will do things fundamentally differently so that things get fundamentally better," vowed Merkel.
Staking out other conservative values for the 2006 election, Merkel called for partners in homosexuals marriages not to be given the same rights of inheritance as for heterosexual couples.
She also backed setting up a centre in Berlin documenting the expulsion of about 15 million ethnic Germans from central and eastern Europe after World War II.
Siting the centre in Berlin has been strongly opposed by the Polish government which also sees the German capital the old centre of Nazi Germany which began the war against Poland in 1939.
Merkel is expected to be overwhelming re-elected as CDU leader at the two-day party congress.
Subject: German news