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Germany

Turkish Premier Slams German Opposition

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out in a Sunday newspaper interview at Germany's conservative opposition for its drive to torpedo Turkey's EU membership bid, accusing it of populism.

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Erdogan has called the German opposition's position a "fateful error"

"Unfortunately, the opposition in Germany seems to believe that it can make domestic politics out of our wish to join the European Union," Erdogan was quoted by the mass-market Bild am Sonntag newspaper as saying. "I consider that to be a fateful error."

EU leaders are widely expected to give the go ahead for the start of membership talks with Turkey at a crunch summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, but under tough conditions.

While German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has strongly backed Turkish negotiations toward full membership in the EU, the opposition Christian Union parties reject this goal, calling for a "privileged partnership" with the predominantly Muslim country.

France's center-right government and Austria have also called for consideration of such a status for Turkey. Ankara has vehemently rejected such proposals.

Stoiber vows to fight Turkish membership

Stoiber auf dem CDU-Parteitag

Edmund Stoiber

The head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Edmund Stoiber, told Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung the opposition would step up the fight against Turkish accession if it won the general election in two years.

"A government led by us from 2006 would do everything in cooperation with our partners such as France to ensure Turkey does not become a full member of the EU," he said.

The paper reported that the Christian Union parties would pass a motion in parliament Monday entitled "Do not close your eyes to the problems with Turkey." The document lays out what the opposition views as the dangers posed by Turkey joining the EU including "rise in gangland crime, Islamist threat and terrorist danger" in Germany.

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