Merkel stiffens terms for Turkey's EU talks

5th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

5 December 2006, Mettlach, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday stiffened calls for slowing down Turkey's European Union membership bid with demands for a new report on Ankara's compliance with EU standards to be issued by 2009. Merkel, speaking at a summit with Polish President Lech Kaczynski and French President Jacques Chirac, insisted she was not setting up new hurdles for Turkish EU membership. "We do not want an ultimatum," said the Christian Democratic German leader who opposes

5 December 2006

Mettlach, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday stiffened calls for slowing down Turkey's European Union membership bid with demands for a new report on Ankara's compliance with EU standards to be issued by 2009.

Merkel, speaking at a summit with Polish President Lech Kaczynski and French President Jacques Chirac, insisted she was not setting up new hurdles for Turkish EU membership.

"We do not want an ultimatum," said the Christian Democratic German leader who opposes allowing mainly Muslim Turkey with its population of 70 million to become an EU member.

Merkel earlier this week said Turkey's refusal to open its airports and harbours to planes and ships from EU-member Cyprus should be met not merely with a partial freeze on Ankara's accession negotiations, as sought by the European Commission.

Taking a harder line, Merkel called for imposing a "revision clause" on Turkey which would mean that even if Ankara meets EU demands there would be no automatic restarting of accession talks.

Instead, all of the EU's future 27 member states would again have to reach a unanimous decision to resume membership negotiations.

Merkel said such a vote should come after an 18-month waiting period and could be made on the basis of a new commission report on Turkey's fitness to join the bloc to be issued between Turkish elections in autumn 2007 and European parliament elections in spring 2009.

Merkel said a final decision on steps aimed at Turkey was expected at an EU summit in Brussels on December 14 and 15.

Chirac seemingly backed Merkel by saying he "agreed that necessary consequences" had to be drawn from Turkey's Cyprus failure.

But the German chancellor's view was immediately contradicted by President Kaczynski.

"Poland is of the view that membership talks with Turkey should continue," he said.

Meanwhile, the Polish leader, who has often been at loggerheads with the German and French governments, stood by his country's veto of a new EU-Russia partnership agreement due to Moscow's embargo on meat and other food products from Poland.

"Negotiations with Russia can begin when the embargo is lifted," he said.

Kaczynski also said he expected more "solidarity" from the EU on his country's concerns over energy security linked to the reliability of Russia as an energy source.

"Up until now (energy) was an economic problem - now it is a political problem," he said.

Poland is alarmed over EU energy dependence on Russia and opposes the Baltic Sea gas pipeline being built between Russia and Germany because it avoids crossing Polish territory.

Kaczynski warns the pipeline makes his country more vulnerable to Russian energy cut-offs following Moscow's brief shut-off of gas to Ukraine last January due to a pricing dispute.

In a jab at Merkel during their joint news conference, the Polish leader termed the pipeline "a German-Polish bilateral problem."

Tuesday's meeting - part of a regular series of Franco-German- Polish summits dubbed the Weimar Triangle - was supposed to have been held last July.

It was cancelled after President Kaczynski declined to attend, reportedly due to anger over critical articles about him in a German newspaper and Berlin's refusal to offer any form of apology.

Ties between Poland and EU heavyweights France and Germany have been strained due to a series of issues in the past years.

Poland backed the US-led Iraq war while Germany and France led European opposition. Poland has taken a critical view of closer EU integration and over the failed EU constitution whereas the governments in Berlin and Paris back deepening EU ties.

In a debacle for Chirac, voters in France (and the Netherlands) last year rejected the EU constitution. All member states must give the treaty a green light for it to enter into force.

DPA

Subject: German news

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