7th Dec 2019

Chirac says Turkey needs 'major cultural revolution' to join EU

French president Jacques Chirac has said that Turkey needs to undergo a "major cultural revolution" if it is to become a member of the EU.

His words come just one day after the EU wrangled for a 30-hour marathon session to get agreement among member states allowing accession talks to begin on Monday (3 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Speaking after a meeting with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the president expressed his support for Turkey but was doubtful about whether the huge, mainly Muslim country would ever become a member of the bloc.

Will [Turkey] succeed? I don't know. What is clear, is that she will need time, a lot of time, 10-15 years at least," Mr Chirac said.

"Will she succeed?", he repeated. "I don't know. I hope so, but I'm not at all sure. So let's be elegant enough - that is also in our interests - to discuss this," he added.

His equivocal comments about Turkey are reflected by many politicians in the bloc, aware that several sectors of the EU population remain hostile to Ankara's membership bid.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday (4 October) that "Turkey must win the hearts and minds of European citizens".

"They are the ones who at the end of the day will decide about Turkey's membership."

Olli Rehn, enlargement commissioner, emphasized that while the objective of the negotiations is accession, there is no "automacity" about the process.

One year

The commission said on Tuesday that it expects it will take at least one year before the real technical talks begin.

On 20 October, the so-called 'screening' process will begin to see if the country's laws meet the minimum requirements to start talks in specific areas.

These specific areas run to 35 different chapters of legislation, about 80,000 pages of EU law, covering everything from the environment, to food safety rules to justice and home affairs.

The first areas to be looked at in two weeks are science and research followed by culture and education.

Member states are also entitled to give their final unanimous approval for talks to start in the each of the areas.

Meanwhile, the negotiating mandate also has a strong proviso.

It states that if the EU finds "a serious and persistent breach [. . .] of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law," it can suspend negotiations.


France unveils new model EU enlargement

Western Balkan countries should become EU members via a new, step-by-step process, France has said in a detailed proposal seen by EUobserver.

Juncker: 'Historic mistake' against Balkan EU hopefuls

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker described a decision to block Albania and North Macedonia from advancing into the next phase to eventually join the European Union as a historic mistake.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal


EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us