Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Turkey Vents Anger at French Plan for Referendum

Magazine article Europe-East

Enlargement : Turkey Vents Anger at French Plan for Referendum

Article excerpt

Ankara has reacted with anger to the French lower house's approval of a constitutional amendment, which could block Turkey's eventual accession to the EU.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said, on 3 June, that it was "irked by efforts to enshrine such a discriminatory approach towards Turkey in the French constitution despite the fact that accession negotiations [between Turkey and the EU] have started with France's consent".

The statement came following the French National Assembly's adoption, on 31 May, of an amendment tabled by Jean-Luc Warsmann - a deputy from the right-wing UMP party - which requires France to hold a referendum to approve the EU accession of any country whose population surpasses 5% of the EU's population - currently about 500 million people.

Turkey, an EU hopeful with a population of 70 million, is expected to be affected by the new referendum clause. Ankara hopes the amendment will be rejected at the later stages of the legislation procedure. After the approval by the lower house, the bill will be brought in front of the French Senate and then the French Congress (body created when both houses of the present-day French Parliament - the National Assembly and the Senate - meet at the Chateau of Versailles to vote on revisions to the Constitution). The French Congress is expected to vote on the amendment in July.

In order to reach the three-fifths majority of the two merged bodies of the French legislature required for the amendment to be approved, the UMP needs to secure the backing of the Socialists, who oppose the proposal. …

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