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Germany, France Back Partial Halt To Turkey-EU Talks

(AFP) December 5, 2006 -- The leaders of Germany and France said today they support the partial suspension of Turkey's European Union membership negotiations over its refusal to open up to trade with Cyprus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged the EU to impose a review of Turkey's membership negotiations after 18 months. That proposal was backed by the EU Presidency, currently held by Finland, and Cyprus, but rejected by Sweden and Estonia.

"Our goal is that the Ankara Protocol will be implemented, irrespective of time frames or how one views the overall Turkish [EU] accession," Merkel said. "We don't want to set any kind of ultimatum, but we want to make clear again through the [European] Council that we want to look at the [European] Commission reports and the commission should then tell us what has been achieved and how to possibly proceed between autumn 2007 [Turkish elections] -- about one year from today -- and spring 2009 [European elections]."

Merkel also said after talks with French President Jacques Chirac and Polish President Lech Kaczynski in Mettlach, Germany, that a proposal from the European Commission to suspend eight of 35 areas in Turkey's membership talks is a "good basis" for discussions.

Chirac said France and Germany have the same position. Kaczynski said he is convinced that all problems with Turkey can be resolved.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today he had told Merkel that EU leaders should avoid making "a historic mistake" when they discuss Turkey's membership bid at a meeting on December 11.

(compiled from agency reports)

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