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    Turkey slams France over EU referendum plan

    Hurriyet English with wires
    04.06.2008 - 10:05 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkey on Tuesday slammed a French reform project making a referendum obligatory for accepting new EU members, saying it was aimed at raising new barriers to Ankara's bid to join the bloc.

    Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Burak Ozugergin told reporters on Tuesday, Ankara 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 France's consent."   

    "It is inevitable for such discriminatory approaches to harm our bilateral relations and... damage the traditional friendship between our peoples," he added.

    The French national assembly voted last week to make a referendum obligatory for accepting new EU member countries with populations over five percent the bloc's entire size -- a move that affects Turkey.

    Ozugergin said he hoped the provision in the bill making references to Turkey would be corrected soon "in line with the proposals of commonsensical French politicians".

    The measures are part of an institutional reform project to be submitted to a vote in July, the AFP reported.

    Currently a parliamentary vote is sufficient to approve the accession of new EU members.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a vocal opponent of Turkey's accession, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong to 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.

    Photo: AFP


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