Jacques Chirac will on Wednesday appear on French TV in a bid to convince a skeptical French public that Turkey should be allowed to join the EU.
Facing political isolation in his own country for favoring opening EU membership talks with Turkey, French president Jacques Chirac will this evening appear on French TV to make Turkey's case. This extraordinary step comes as Chirac faces strong opposition from members of the public and from within his own center-right UMP party to Turkey's entrance into the Union. A poll published by
Le Figaro on Monday showed that 67 percent of French voters were against Turkey's entry as are several prominent politicians in the UMP, including the man lining himself up to be Chirac's successor, Nicolas Sarkozy. The French president is set to emphasize that the negotiations will be open-ended and will not automatically lead to full membership. Turkey will be the focus of attention in the European Parliament today as parliamentarians vote on whether or not to open negotiations. The vote is not binding but would be politically embarrassing if a 'no' were to come the day before leaders meet to take their decision on Turkey. For its part, Turkey is refusing to accept a second-class membership of the EU, as some countries continue to push for permanent restrictions in certain areas. "After a 40-year adventure, we expect the EU to announce a date for negotiations ... We want full membership without conditions ... and expect sincerity from the EU," said Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday.