Giscard predicts 'end of EU' if Turkey joins

Stephen Castle
Saturday 09 November 2002 01:00
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The man responsible for plotting the future of Europe provoked a political furore yesterday by saying that any decision to bring Turkey in from the cold would spell "the end of the European Union".

In an extraordinarily blunt intervention, the former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who is chairing an inquiry into the workings of an enlarged Europe, said those who backed Ankara's candidacy were "the adversaries of the EU".

The comments were rapidly disowned by the European Commission and even by M. Giscard's vice-president on his 105-strong convention into the future of Europe. Pat Cox, the president of the European Parliament, described M. Giscard's contribution as "unhelpful" and "ill-advised".

Nevertheless, his sentiments reflect the private views of many European politicians and illustrate that opposition to Turkish membership runs deep. While M. Giscard has no formal say on the issue, his words are certain to polarise views ahead of a crucial summit next month when European leaders must decide what to do about Turkey's application.

In the interview with the French daily Le Monde, M. Giscard said that Turkey had "a different culture, a different approach, a different way of life". He added: "Its capital is not in Europe, 95 per cent of its population live outside Europe. It is not a European country."

Admitting Turkey to the EU would go "outside the continent" and prompt demands to admit other Middle Eastern and North African states, starting with Morocco, he said. Asked what the effect would be, he said: "In my opinion, it would be the end of the European Union."

Turkey has just held elections in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist roots, swept the board. EU policy-makers are conscious of the fact that, if Turkey's population expands as predicted, it could be the biggest EU nation by 2020.

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