Sarkozy drops EU-Turkey vote from UMP agenda

20th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - Under pressure from President Jacques Chirac, his arch-rival Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday dropped plans to present a resolution opposing Turkey's full entry to the European Union before the national council of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - Under pressure from President Jacques Chirac, his arch-rival Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday dropped plans to present a resolution opposing Turkey's full entry to the European Union before the national council of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party.

In what was widely described as a deliberate provocation of the president - who supports Turkish entry - Sarkozy last week told journalists that the 1,500 member council would be asked to vote in March on a motion to grant Turkey "privileged partnership" rather than membership.

Sarkozy - the UMP president - has the backing of most party members in opposing full membership for Ankara, which is to start accession talks later this year.

However leading Chirac supporters criticised Sarkozy for opening a divisive issue when the party needs to be united behind the campaign for approval of the EU constitution - to be put to a referendum in the coming months.

The UMP president said Thursday that he had decided instead to present a composite resolution on the EU to the national council, in which the Turkish issue would be less prominent.

The rivalry between Chirac and Sarkozy has become a central feature of French politics and looks set to dominate the run-up to the 2007 presidential elections, in which both men could stand.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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