EU treaty and Turkey's EU bid 'not linked'

8th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

HELSINKI, April 8 (AFP) - European enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn rejected Friday any connection between the new European Union constitution and Turkey's possible accession to the bloc, an issue that has surfaced in the referendum campaign in France.

HELSINKI, April 8 (AFP) - European enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn rejected Friday any connection between the new European Union constitution and Turkey's possible accession to the bloc, an issue that has surfaced in the referendum campaign in France.

Speaking at a press conference in Helsinki, Rehn said he knew about the debate in France linking the two issues "but there is no correlation between them," the Finnish commissioner said, adding that the prospect of Turkey joining the EU does not depend on the result of the French referendum on the new constitution set for May 29.

According to recent polls, a majority of French voters are opposed to the EU constitutional treaty and also Turkey's entry into the group.

Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the ruling UMP party in France, is a supporter of the new EU constitution but opposed to Turkey joining the bloc. He has said that in his view saying "yes" to the constitution will make it harder for Turkey to integrate into Europe.

Rehn, however, said the constitution is only a tool for reinforcing democracy in the bloc, which expanded from 15 to 25 members last year.

"The accession negotiations with Turkey are simply not linked" to the ratification or the rejection of the constitutional treaty, Rehn said.

EU leaders decided last December to open membership talks with Ankara in October, provided the country institutes certain reforms.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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