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Germany

Conservatives to Huddle to Block Turkey's EU Bid

Germany's opposition conservatives are looking to France for support in their bid to dash Turkey's EU hopes by inviting French conservative Economics Minister Sarkozy for talks.

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Turkey appears too populous and overwhelming Muslim to conservatives

Germany's opposition conservatives have invited the new head of France's ruling center-right party, Nicolas Sarkozy, for talks on strategy for blocking Turkey's EU bid, German media reported Friday.

Nicolas Sarkozy, französischer Wirtschafts- und Finanzminister

Nicolas Sarkozy

Chirac's ruling Union for a Political Movement (UMP) party is hostile to Turkey's entry and party chief and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy has made no bones about his view.

Last weekend, he renewed calls for a "privileged partnership" with Turkey rather than EU membership. Opinion polls show more than two-thirds of French voters oppose Turkey's entry. Many fear the entry of a large, overwhelmingly Muslim country will change the nature of the Union and Turkish immigrants will flood Europe.

Too populous and poor

The Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of the main opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU), will host Sarkozy at its annual parliamentary group conference January 6 to discuss Turkey's EU ambitions and its implications for the planned European Union constitution, daily Rheinische Post said.

Sarkozy will then meet with CDU leaders at a conference in the northern city of Kiel, the party has said.

While German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has spearheaded efforts to bring Turkey into the EU fold, the Christian Union parties are lobbying for a "privileged partnership" with Ankara as opposed to full membership.

Angela Merkel redet im Bundestag

Angela Merkel, head of the CDU in Germany

Earlier press reports said that several CSU members of parliament were now considering opposing the EU constitution because they argue it would leave the bloc hamstrung if Turkey did eventually become a member.

CSU deputy Johannes Singhammer told daily Münchner Merkur that Turkey was too populous and too poor for the bloc to take on.

Door Open for EU-Turkey talks

France is to hold a national referendum on the EU constitution next year and under pressure from Sarkozy, French President Jacques Chirac was forced to promise a referendum on ratifying Turkey's eventual EU membership.

In a recent interview on French television, Sarkozy said, "If Turkey were European, we'd know it."

EU leaders agreed at a summit in Brussels last week to open membership negotiations with Ankara on October 3, but set a series of tough conditions and made clear that Turkey could not hope to join the EU before 2014.

All 25 EU member states must ratify the constitution, which aims to streamline the workings of the bloc, before it can go into

effect.

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