26 November 2003
BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder argued Wednesday against any postponement in the European Union’s timetable for negotiating with Ankara on Turkish membership in the European Union.
In a parliamentary session debate on Germany’s fiscal situation and budget for 2004, Schroeder defended the timetable against repeated calls made in the conservative opposition camp to delay Turkish entry into the EU.
He said the EU timetable and the conditions laid down for it would remain in place with a preliminary decision set for late 2004 on whether to enter into membership negotiations with Ankara.
Schroeder said European and German security could be enhanced if Turkey’s experiment were to succeed in combining Islam with the values of a free society.
His remarks came after members of the conservative opposition Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union camp, citing last week’s series of terror bomb attacks in Istanbul, voiced concern about Turkey being able to be drawn more closely to western Europe.
Schroeder’s ruling Social Democrat-Greens coalition has steadfastly defended the idea of Turkish integration and eventual membership in the EU.
Germany is home to some two million ethnic Turks.
Subject: German news