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050928 - Danish PM expresses doubt over Turkish EU membership
27.09.2005 - 10:35 CET | By Teresa Küchler
The Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed doubt about the prospect of Turkish EU membership calling into question whether the country has met the EU's political criteria for joining the EU.
In a column in Danish daily Politiken, Mr Rasmussen writes "In the EU we are now hurrying towards further talks on new enlargements - with Turkey for instance. This is something that a lot of ordinary Europeans question."

"Is it not going a bit too fast? Can the EU stick together when enlargements goes so far and so fast? Can we at all envisage an EU bordering Irak, Syria and Iran?".

In an interview with the same paper, the Danish leader also suggests that the EU's own capacity to absorb new members - one of the so-called "Copenhagen criteria" - has not been sufficiently respected in the run-up to Turkish accession.

"This has fallen out of focus", he said. "I want to take them up higher on the agenda."

The Danish leader said that the EU's capacity to welcome new members has reached its limits.

"It is important that enlargement does not mean watering down EU collaboration. We must consider how far enlargement can go, and still uphold a well functioning EU that sticks together. This also applies to Turkey."

According to Mr Rasmussen, big changes in Turkish society are needed to meet the EU's political standards.

"Even if Turkey starts adhesion talks next week, it is not foreseeable that Turkey will meet with the EU demands", he says.

EU constitution
Mr Rasmussen also used the fact that today was the day when Danish citizens were supposed to vote on the EU constitution to reflect on the political stalemate in the EU following the French and Dutch rejections of the constitution before the summer.

This led to a suspension of referendums in other countries including Denmark.

"I believe we must come to terms with the fact that the constitution will not come into force in the following years. I do not say that the constitution is completely dead, but we must face the fact that two countries have rejected it. I do not see a solution to that. Therefore I say that now we must concentrate on what the EU actually can do", said Mr Rasmussen.

"The EU has been too busy discussing interior processes and not busy enough with the every day life of citizens", he added.

His comments are similar to statements made by commission president Jose Manuel Barroso last week, when he said that the constitution would not come into place for at least two or three years and that it was time for the EU to think beyond it.


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