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Royal backs Turkey’s EU membership 26 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in France, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.

EUobserver.com (Belgium), March 26, 2007 Monday

Honor Mahony

French socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal has spoken out in favour of Turkish membership of the EU, putting her at odds with her two main opponents from the right.

« Eventually Turkey has a vocation to join Europe provided it satisfies the adhesion criteria, which are not only economic and financial but also democratic, » she says in an extract of her campaign book published in French daily Le Monde on Sunday (24 March).

The socialist contender, currently second in the polls, said that « in principle » she was in favour of Turkey joining the EU but « not yet because Europe has broken down and it is necessary to revive it before enlarging again. »

Ms Royal also said that neither geography nor religion – Turkey is predominantly muslim – should not be used a reason to discriminate against the country.

« We should not oppose Turkey’s membership on an argument of geography. Europe is not a territory…but a political project. »

« The religious argument also does not hold. A country whose population is mostly Muslim has a perfect right to be in Europe which is not a club of Christian nations. »

It is the first time Ms Royal has been clear on the subject. When she was asked about it early on in her presidential campaign she was criticised for appearing to flounder on the issue and then saying her opinion would be that of the French people.

Although Ms Royal qualified her Turkey statements by saying Europe first needs « a time of stabilisation of its borders » and to prove « its concrete utility in the daily life of those it already unites » her position is much more positive than either right wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, currently topping the polls, or the centrist Francois Bayrou, lying in third place.

Both have said that Turkey should not become a member of the European Union.

Ankara’s EU bid has long been a thorny issue in France, with opinion polls showing that the majority of French voters are against it becoming a member – opposition to further enlargement of the bloc is also thought to have played a role in France’s rejection of the EU constitution in 2005.

On top of this, Ms Royal’s fairly positive comments towards Ankara are tempered by the fact that at the end of the membership negotiation process, the French will have a referendum on Turkish EU membership, following a 2004 promise by president Jacques Chirac.


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