Sunday

15th Sep 2019

Chirac to make Turkey's case on French TV

Facing political isolation in his own country for favouring opening EU membership talks with Turkey, French president Jacques Chirac will this evening appear on French TV to make Turkey's case.

This extraordinary step comes as Mr Chirac faces strong opposition from members of the public and from within his own centre-right UMP party to Turkey's entrance into the Union.

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  • The European Parliament will vote on Turkey today (Photo: EUobserver)

A poll published by Le Figaro on Monday showed that 67 percent of French voters were against Turkey's entry as are several prominent politicians in the UMP, including the man lining himself up to be Mr Chirac's successor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The French President is set to emphasize that the negotiations will be open-ended and will not automatically lead to full membership.

This is being reiterated in several quarters in Europe on the eve of the summit where EU leaders will decide whether to give the nod to start negotiations with Ankara.

Following a meeting with Dutch prime minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, currently the head of the EU, the German Chancellor stressed that while a date to start negotiations will be given, the negotiations themselves will be open-ended.

"Turkey will be given a date; however, negotiations will take a long time and be open-ended", said Gerhard Schröder on Tuesday (14 December).

Mr Balkenende, who also met Mr Chirac yesterday, said "The goal is membership, but we have to consider the possibility that negotiations may not end with a 'yes' answer…We'll find a solution to this".

Debate

Turkey will also be the focus of attention in the European Parliament today as MEPs vote on whether or not to open negotiations.

The vote is not binding but would be politically embarrassing if a 'no' were to come the day before leaders meet to take their decision on Turkey.

For its part, Turkey is refusing to accept a second-class membership of the EU, as some countries continue to push for permanent restrictions in certain areas.

"After a 40-year adventure, we expect the EU to announce a date for negotiations ... We want full membership without conditions ... and expect sincerity from the EU," said Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.

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