Schröder supports Turkey's bid for EU membership
Chancellor Schröder supports Turkey's bid for EU membership
Speaking in Berlin on September 2, after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said Turkey's expectations with regard to future membership in the European Union must not be disappointed, emphasizing that this is also in Germany's national interest. He remarked that the negative attitude being expressed by the CDU and CSU opposition parties towards Turkey joining the EU is nothing but "cheap politics" aimed at securing votes among the more conservative elements of the electorate and is having a damaging effect on German-Turkish relations. Schröder noted that a statement of support for Turkish membership in the European Union is consistent with positions taken by past German governments as well as by the EU. He reminded journalists that the prospect of future membership has been held out ever since the conclusion of an association agreement between Turkey and the European Economic Community in 1963.
Great respect for domestic reforms in Turkey
Schröder indicated that a timetable for accession negotiations had been agreed on at past European Council meetings and that a decision would be taken on Turkish EU membership at the end of 2004. Important criteria for this decision include compliance with human rights standards and the existence of a democratic system of government governed by the rule of law. Schröder said he had great respect for the progress the Erdogan government has made in these areas and that this will help make the road to EU membership smoother for Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan underscored the importance of the reforms initiated by his government. He expressed his gratitude for the support being given by the German government, saying that this will be very helpful in implementing the reforms. Erdogan added to these words of thanks a request that the subject of Turkish accession to the European Union not be used as an issue in German domestic politics.
More important role for the UN in Iraq
Further talking points in the meeting between
Erdogan and Schröder included international issues,
particularly the situation in Afghanistan and in Iraq. They
agreed that the United Nations needs to play a much greater
role in the political process in Iraq and that the process
of democratizing and stabilizing the country must succeed.
Erdogan made reference to his country's strong humanitarian
involvement in Iraq, saying that Turkey sends between 2000
and 3000 truckloads of relief goods into Iraq daily and is
planning to build two hospitals there. With regard to the
case of fundamentalist Islamic cleric Metin Kaplan, both
heads of government called for his rapid deportation to
Turkey. Schröder said a decision handed down by a Cologne
court blocking deportation will have to be appealed.