Turkish EU membership election issue: reports

22nd August 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 August 2005, BERLIN - Turkey's planned entry into the European Union (E.U.) loomed Sunday as an election issue in Germany with news reports saying Christian Democrats would highlight their opposition to granting Ankara full membership.

22 August 2005

BERLIN - Turkey's planned entry into the European Union (E.U.) loomed Sunday as an election issue in Germany with news reports saying Christian Democrats would highlight their opposition to granting Ankara full membership.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats broadly approve of admitting Turkey while the opposition CDU/CSU alliance favours a "privileged partnership", a status less than membership, for Turkey.

In its issue to appear Monday, the news magazine Der Spiegel said Roland Koch, premier of the state of Hesse, had pressed CDU colleagues in Berlin last week to play up emotive issues, especially Turkey, before Germany goes to the polls on September 18.

Angela Merkel, the CDU/CSU's top candidate for the post of chancellor, has so far steered clear of the issue.

One Sunday newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, said party decision makers had opted to put more emphasis on the issue.

But the CDU denied an unsourced report in the tabloid Bild am Sonntag according to which Merkel and CSU leader Edmund Stoiber planned to launch a campaign this week against Turkish accession.

The national chairman of the Social Democrats, Franz Muentefering, responded Sunday that the party would not "draw back even a semi-step" in its policy that Turkish membership was possible. "The conservatives can do as they please," he said.

The election debate in Germany was also dominated by tax issues on Sunday, with Merkel reaffirming the alliance's policy of modest tax reform in a rebuff to her new financial-policy spokesman, Paul Kirchhof, who has pressed for a flat rate of income tax.

DPA

Subject: German news

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