Kinkel Says No Quick EU Membership for Turkey

ANKARA (Reuter)–German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in commen’s published on Tuesday that Turkey has no chance of realizing its long-held ambition to join the European Union soon.

"Turkey has had a place reserved for it on the European train since 1963 but there is no chance of it getting on the train in the near future," he told Turkey’s Yeni Yuzyil daily in an interview.

Ankara became an associate member of the European Economic Community in 1963 and sealed a customs union with the EU in 1995–but it has seen eastern European nations leapfrog it in the queue for full membership.

"(Turkey) has to do its domestic chores," Kinkel said. "The first of these are human rights–the Kurdish problem and economic problems." A German foreign ministry spokesman in Bonn said the commen’s accurately reflected Kinkel’s views.

Turkey is struggling with inflation of more than 80 percent and gaping budget and trade deficits. Its troops are fighting a 13-year-old battle against Kurdish rebels in which human rights violations are often alleged.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said there was nothing new in Kinkel’s commen’s.

"Kinkel made these statemen’s before. There is nothing new. Kinkel said the same thing when he came to Turkey six months ago," Cem was quoted as saying by the Anatolian news agency.

The agency said Cem would go to Germany on Thursday for a two-day visit including a meeting with Kinkel.

"We speak with Kinkel on September 12 in Germany. We will discuss the problem face-to-face," Cem said.

Kinkel paid a stormy visit to Turkey in March–which was nearly canceled after then prime minister Necmettin Erbakan said Europeans should "bow their heads" in shame because of what he said was the one-sided implementation of the customs union.

Millions of dollars of EU aid to help Turkey adjust to the customs union have been blocked–partly because of concern over Ankara’s human rights record.

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