French Foreign Minister Adds Weight to Turkey Referendum Recall

PARIS (EUobserver.com)–French foreign minister Michel Barnier has added his weight to calls for a referendum on Turkey’s entry into the EU.

Speaking on September 27–Barnier said–"When it comes to such an important decision–in my personal opinion–it should be put… to a referendum when the time comes."

This follows similar calls from French finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy–seen as a challenger to Jacques Chirac for the presidency–who told LCI television on Sunday that Turkey will not join the European Union for at least 15 years and could only do so once France had held a referendum on the issue.

Barnier recalled a precedent–saying–"we did it for the UK," regarding a referendum on the entry of the UK–Ireland–and Denmark in 1972–where France voted to allow these three countries to join the bloc by a two-thirds majority.

But polls show that similar support is not forthcoming for Turkey’s admission.

A survey in Le Figaro showed that just over 36% French people are in favor of Turkey joining the EU but over 56% are against.

Despite this–63% say they would be prepared to accept Turkey as a member if it makes the necessary efforts.

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The Commission has declared that the organization of a referendum on Ankara’s EU membership is a matter for member states.

Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen said–"If a member state wants to organize a referendum–on whatever subject–this is up to its own discretion. We have no comment on it."

The Brussels executive will release its report–widely expected to be positive–on October 6. Member States will then decide definitively in December whether to open negotiations.

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