Slovenia criticises French Mediterranean Union proposal
17.01.08 @ 09:13
EU presidency Slovenia has criticized French president Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal to set up a Mediterranean Union connecting countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, with Turkey as the backbone of the club.
Speaking on Wednesday (16 January) before MEPs about his country's plans for the six month presidency, Slovene Prime Minister Janez Jansa agreed that EU relations with Mediterranean states should be strengthened.
But alluding directly to Mr Sarkozy's plan, he said: "We do not need a duplication of institutions, or institutions that would compete with EU, institutions that would cover part of the EU and part of the neighbourhood."
"The EU is a whole, a single entity, and only as such can it be a help in establishing peace, stability and progress in our neighbourhood and in the broader context," Mr Jansa added.
France, holder of the next presidency of the European Union, intends to mount a summit in July to discuss the Mediterranean Union idea.
Mooted shortly after he became president of France, the concept has caused unease in Brussels as it is seen as likely to duplicate the existing EU structures covering relations with Mediterranean countries.
In addition, Mr Sarkozy's idea is perceived by many as being an alternative path for Turkey, as the French president is a firm opponent of Ankara's membership bid.
Germany has also expressed concern at the plan, saying it risks splitting the EU.
In a small dig at France, which is seen as overshadowing Slovenia with regular announcements of its plans under its own EU presidency beginning in July, Mr Jansa said:
""Hopefully our friends in Paris will not hold this against us, but we also want to lead Europe with a vision."