Posted on June 28, 2005

German Opposition Throws Turkey EU Talks into Question

Deutsche Presse Agentur, June 27

BERLIN — Germany’s conservative opposition has again thrown into question the mandate for the European Union membership talks with Turkey.

Talks between the European Union (E.U.) and Turkey are due to begin on October 3.

This will be after Germany’s early national election in September, which opinion polls predict will result in a win for the Christian Democrat-led (CDU) opposition.

But in a weekend interview with Deutsche Presse Agentur, a leading CDU official, Matthias Wissmann sought to play down Turkey’s hopes for eventually signing up to E.U. membership.

According to Wissmann, who also chairs the German Parliament’s committee on European Affairs, the talks need to avoid allowing Turkey “any illusion that it can expect full membership.”

Instead, he said, the talks should focus on the aim of providing Turkey with a privileged partnership arrangement.

The European Commission is planning to set out this Wednesday details of the discussions with Turkey.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrat-led Government has given its backing to Turkey eventually joining the 25-member bloc following last December’s resolution by the E.U. government chiefs endorsing Ankara’s membership drive.

However in the wake of the Dutch and French votes rejecting Europe’s proposed constitution, the outcome of the talks with Turkey remain open.

The leader of the parliamentary Social Democrat group in the European parliament, Martin Schulz, sees the Turkey negotiations as facing considerable hurdles.

“The crisis in Europe does not accelerates the enlargement process”, Schulz told the weekly Frankfurter Allgemeine Sontagszeitung.

At the same time, a key member of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), Werner Hoyer warned about “snubbing Turkey”. The FDP is likely to be the junior member of a CDU-led government if the opposition wins the September election.

Ankara does not want to negotiate about a privileged partnership, said Hoyer.

“The probability is, however, that at the end something else than a full membership comes out,” he said.