German Chancellor: Turkish EU membership not guaranteed

(ABHaber)–New German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that Turkey is not guaranteed entry in the European Union and that it must meet a series of stringent criteria.

Merkel made the remarks during her first speech to the German Parliament to determine the new coalition government’s foreign policy.

The membership negotiations that began on October 3 "are a process with an open end and the outcome cannot be guaranteed in advance," she said.

Merkel told Parliament that any country hoping to join the EU must fulfill all the conditions without restrictions.

In an attempt to echo her preference for "privileged relationship" between the EU and Ankara–which stops short of full membership–Merkel warned against overburdening the ability of the Union–which took in 10 mostly Eastern European states last year–to absorb more members.

If Turkey fails to meet those conditions or the EU is not ready to admit it–Turkey "must be bound as closely as possible to European structures in a way that further develops its privileged relationship to the EU," she said.

Most members of Merkel’s Christian Democratic alliance (CDU/CSU) want to offer Ankara a so-called "privileged partnership" which Turkish leaders angrily reject as second-class membership. In contrast–outgoing Social Democratic (SPD) Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been a staunch backer of Ankara’s entry to the 25 nation bloc.

Merkel pledges ‘open–honest’ dialogue with Islam

The new German chancellor also pledged an "open and honest" dialogue with Islam but denounced forced marriages and so-called "honor" killings.

"A dialogue with Islam carries great significance–we have to learn to understand each other," Merkel told Parliament.

"We will do this in an open and honest way. We will not brush aside differences–but name them clearly," she added.

Merkel stated that forced marriages and "honor" killings "have nothing–absolutely nothing–to do with honor and also no place whatsoever in our society. We cannot tolerate them."

But she also stressed that "Germany is a tolerant and cosmopolitan country" and pledged to defend the rights of all minority groups.

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