Germany and France have taken differing tones on Turkey, although they pledged to back Ankara’s bid to join the European Union.
The subject is causing political friction throughout the EU, not least in these two countries, which have the largest Turkish immigrant communities. At a regular informal summit meeting, in Lubeck, northern Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said: “We both have a goal: membership for Turkey. We know the negotiations will take a long time, say 10 to 15 years. And we know that the end-result of the process is open.” All the EU leaders are due to meet on December 16-17 to decide whether to start talks aimed at preparing the way for Turkey to join the 25-member bloc. President Jacques Chirac said: “If not all the entry conditions are met, of course the negotiations will be interrupted; we would have to look for a way of ensuring that this did not lead to a separation.” France and Austria are the only two countries that have so far advocated offering Ankara a “privileged partnership” short of full membership, with some support from Denmark.