Angela Merkel and Jacques Chirac have begun bilateral talks aimed at establishing a common position on Turkey’s stalled European Union membership bid. The French President favours setting a new timetable for Turkey to accept imports from Cyprus, the current stumbling block in the talks, and hopes to ally German Chancellor Merkel to the cause. However EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has spoken out against a new deadline for Turkey, saying rigid timetables did not produce results and the issue was best dealt with by the United Nations.
The talks in Mettlach will also cover Airbus’s financial difficulties and relations between the EU and Russia. Merkel wants the EU to forge strong ties with Moscow, but faces resistance from Poland, which has blocked talks on any such partnership until Russia lifts its ban on Polish meat imports. Polish President Lech Kaczynski will join the talks this afternoon in an attempt to forge a breakthrough.