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EPP divided on Turkey, meets in Poland

EPP divided on Turkey, meets in Poland
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Turkey has been the main item on the agenda at the end-of-summer conference of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP). It also paid respects to the Polish war dead.

The largest political group in the European Parliament chose to meet in Gdansk, to pay tribute to its workers’ contribution to European reunification. What place to offer Turkey in a Union of the future has the EPP deeply divided. Group leader Hans-Gert Pottering, of Germany’s opposition CDU party, touched on the following: “The mandate for negotiations should be a double mandate, in the sense that (it) can lead to membership or it can lead to another form of partnership; So, the negotiations should be open-ended.” The European Parliament’s say on the divergence of views on the EU customs union with Turkey has been deferred until the end of the month. The predicament of the EU draft constitution complicates matters. “What the No victories in the (French and Dutch) referendums on the charter had in common,” says French UMP Euro-deputy Alain Lamassoure, “is the public’s opposition to enlargement of the Union beyond the European continent, and in particular Turkey. We must obviously take this into account. Also a new element: the Turkish government’s express wish not to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. In view of these elements we think last December’s decision (on the start date for EU accession talks with Ankara) must be looked at again. We cannot open negotiations with Turkey as long as it doesn’t recognise Cyprus.” Austria said this week it saw Turkey as ready for talks — saying they would last more than 20 years — but not ready for full membership. Turkey rejects this.