EU rejection could tip Turkey toward extremism

4th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 4 (AFP) - Turkey could conceivably shift towards Islamic radicalism if it finds itself excluded from joining the European Union, French president Jacques Chirac warned Tuesday.

PARIS, Oct 4 (AFP) - Turkey could conceivably shift towards Islamic radicalism if it finds itself excluded from joining the European Union, French president Jacques Chirac warned Tuesday.

"If, on a whim or as a knee-jerk reaction, we say 'They're not European, they should go away,' who can say that this region won't tip into extremism?" he asked at a media conference in Paris.

He made the comment hours after ministers from EU countries clinched a deal to open negotiations with Turkey on allowing it to eventually join the bloc.

Chirac, long a cautious advocate of EU membership for Turkey, faces deep opposition in France to that prospect, however.

Fears that Turkey, a predominantly poor and Muslim country, will not be able to integrate into the European Union in part prompted French voters to reject a May referendum proposed by Chirac on the adoption of an EU constitution.

He has promised another referendum would take place if Turkey was offered membership to allow the French public to decide.

According to current polls, such a referendum would be soundly defeated today -- meaning Turkey would be barred under rules requiring unanimous approval of all 25 EU states.

But, Chirac ventured, "Who can say what the French will want in 15 years?"

He added: "We have to think a little bit about the future. We want to give our children as large an area as possible where peace and democracy have truly taken root.... We also want Europe to be strong."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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