GeriGündem French Senate moves to scrap measure on Turkey's EU entry
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French Senate moves to scrap measure on Turkey's EU entry

A French Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a measure that would have made a referendum on Turkey's membership in the European Union mandatory, saying it could harm relations with Ankara, the AFP reported. Sources in parliament said the measure was now likely to be blocked by the Senate, it added. (UPDATED)

The foreign relations and defense committee said the provision of a bill adopted by the National Assembly last month "could appear to be directed against a friendly state and ally of France, that is Turkey."             

It would "likely cause grave harm to diplomatic relations between France and this country," the AFP quoted a statement from the committee.

The National Assembly voted on May 29 to make a referendum mandatory for accepting new countries with populations totaling more than five percent the bloc's entire size -- a move that affects Turkey.

The provision is part of a bill on institutional reform to be submitted to a vote in July. Currently a parliamentary vote is sufficient to approve the accession of new EU members.

Turkey had slammed the French reform project, saying it was aimed at raising new barriers to Ankara's bid to join the bloc, and warned that the move could harm relations, saying in a foreign ministry statement that it was "irked by efforts to enshrine such a discriminatory approach towards Turkey in the French Constitution despite the fact that accession negotiations (between Turkey and the EU) have started with Frances consent."

President Nicolas Sarkozy is a vocal opponent of Turkey's entry into the European Union, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong in Europe. Instead, he proposes a "privileged partnership," an idea Turkey rejects.

The EU opened entry talks with Turkey in 2005, but there has been little progress amid disagreements over Cyprus and opposition from France, which will take over the bloc's presidency from Slovenia on July 1 for six months, among other EU countries, including Austria and Germany. The bloc also suspended negotiations in eight policy chapters because of Turkey's refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels.


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