German conservative: new government would honor decision to open Turkish EU talks

AP Worldstream
Jun 01, 2005

A new German government would honor a European Union commitment to
open membership talks with Turkey, but would push for the country to
be granted a "privileged partnership" instead, a senior opposition
figure said in comments published Wednesday.

Opinion polls have given the conservative opposition a strong lead
over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats ahead of elections
expected in mid-September. Unlike Schroeder, the conservatives oppose
Turkish EU membership, arguing that the largely Muslim country would
over-stretch the bloc culturally and financially.

EU membership talks with Turkey are set to start Oct. 3.

"We opposed this decision ... but we can't unilaterally reverse it,"
Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber told the weekly Die Zeit. "But it
is also clear that the negotiations would acquire a new direction
with a conservative-led government."

"We don't want entry, but rather a privileged partnership for Turkey,"
said Stoiber, Schroeder's challenger in 2002 elections. Conservative
leaders have yet to define how such a "privileged partnership"
would work.

"We have to consider very carefully whether a country where women
are oppressed on World Women's Day, torture is still practiced and
references to historical truth _ the Armenia issue _ are seen as
an attack on its identity fulfills the European canon of values,"
Stoiber was quoted as saying.

Turkey has passed sweeping reforms to meet requirements for EU
membership, such as abolishing the death penalty and granting cultural
rights to Kurds.

Stoiber noted, however, that "negotiations can be broken off if
certain conditions are not fulfilled."

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress