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French Senate rejects measure on Turkey’s EU entry

Published on June 12, 2008

12 June 2008

PARIS – A French Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a measure that would have made a referendum on Turkey’s membership in the European Union mandatory, saying it could harm relations with Ankara.

The foreign relations and defence committee said the provision of a bill adopted by the National Assembly last month "could appear to be directed against a friendly state and ally of France, that is Turkey."

It would "likely cause grave harm to diplomatic relations between France and this country," a statement from the committee said.

The National Assembly voted on 29 May to make a referendum mandatory for
accepting new countries with populations totalling more than five percent the
bloc’s entire size – a move that affects Turkey.

The provision is part of a bill on institutional reform to be submitted to a vote in July.

Sources in parliament said the measure was now likely to be blocked by the Senate.

Turkey had warned that the move could harm relations, saying in a foreign ministry statement that it was "irked by efforts to enshrine such a discriminatory approach towards Turkey in the French constitution despite the fact that accession negotiations (between Turkey and the EU) have started with France’s consent."

President Nicolas Sarkozy is a vocal opponent of Turkey’s entry into the European Union, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong in Europe.

Instead, he proposes a "privileged partnership," an idea Turkey rejects.

[APF / Expatica]