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Chirac Points to Third Way on Turkey

French President Jacques Chirac has pointed to a third way for Turkey, which would see it have a strong link to the EU but not actual membership.

Speaking on Sunday in Marseilles, Chirac said, "Either it works and Turkey joins with all our values. This will take 10 to 15 years" or on the other hand, he said "... Turkey cannot or will not make the necessary effort, then we will stop. There is a third hypothesis that in three to four years, things have progressed but there are still obstacles that we will not surmount. We will therefore need to find another solution, to create a sufficiently strong link for our ambitions for peace and co-operation but without integration into the EU." If such an option were to be written into the conclusions of the European Council, when EU leaders gather next month in Brussels to decide whether negotiations should be opened with Turkey, it would mean a significant step back for Ankara. Countries such as Austria and the Netherlands may favor moves in this direction. Chirac's words are intended as a reassurance to French citizens - a majority of whom have doubts about Turkey joining the bloc. The French president has pledged that his country will have referendums on future EU enlargements - which will include Turkey. There is already concern in Paris that the planned referendum on the European Constitution to be held next year may become entangled to the question of whether Turkey should join the EU. (EUobserver.com)

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