Opposition Drops Petition Plans Against Turkey′s EU Bid | Current Affairs | DW | 15.10.2004
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Current Affairs

Opposition Drops Petition Plans Against Turkey's EU Bid

Germany's conservative opposition has given up its idea of launching a petition against Turkish entry into the European Union.

Germany's Turkish population is hoping to join the EU

Germany's Turkish population is hoping to join the EU

On Friday, parliamentary manager of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Germany's main conservative opposition party, Volker Kauder confirmed reports that opposition leader Angela Merkel was abandoning a recent plan to start collecting signatures from citizens who object to Brussels beginning negotiation talks with Turkey. The proposal had sparked a storm of criticism across Germany's political spectrum.

"This action is over and will not be discussed any more," Kauder said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF.

Indignant reactions

Angela Merkel wirbt für Geschlossenheit

CDU leader Angela Merkel

The original plan for a petition was first mooted by Michael Glos, a senior member of the CDU's sister Bavarian party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). The proposal met with prompt support from Angela Merkel, who has long propagated the idea of a "privileged partnership" between the EU and Turkey instead of full membership.

Many in Germany fear that if Turkey joins the EU, current members will be overburdened by the inclusion of such a poor, not to mention predominantly Muslim, country.

Broad resistance

But the government in Berlin as well as members within Merkel's own party reacted with indignation to the idea.

Joschka Fischer im Bundestag

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer

The ruling coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens are both vocal backers of Ankara's quest for a seat at the EU table. So it was no surprise to hear not just Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer stressing that the petition would cause "international political damage", but also the conservative opposition resisting the plan.

Lower Saxony's State Premier Christian Wulff of the CDU pointed out that the CDU would be better off using its majority in the Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament, to brake Turkey's accession efforts, while opposition Free Democrats (FDP) leader Guido Westerwelle also expressed doubt about the proposal. Volker Kauder pointed out that Merkel had decided to recant given "the danger that this action could be misunderstood."

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