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Bundestag president speaks out against EU expansion

Germany's Bundestag president says the European Union should not add any new members to the 27-nation group. The comments come after the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for efforts toward European reconciliation.

German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said on Saturday that the European Union cannot take on new member states, as its current members still had a lot of work to do on consolidation.

Lammert's comments, to appear in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, come as Croatia looks to join the European Union in 2013. Other Balkan nations have also expressed an interest in eurozone membership.

Lammert, a member of the center-right Christian Democrats, said the countries of former Yugoslavia could become EU members, but needed to meet accession conditions on their own.

"I don't think the European Union is capable of expanding in the immediate future," Lammert told the newspaper. "We have so many urgent tasks to complete in terms of consolidating the community that we should not let ambition once again take the place of necessary stabilization," he added.

Balkan states

Many potential Balkan member nations have not come close to meeting European Union membership criteria.

"We must take the European Commission's latest progress report seriously, especially in light of the experiences we had with Bulgaria and Romania," Lammert said. "Croatia is clearly not yet ready for membership."

mkg/jlw (Reuters, AFP, dpa, DAPD)

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