BERLIN, Dec. 9. — Mr Edmund Stoiber, Germany’s leading conservative politician, on Sunday inflamed the row over Ankara’s future in Europe by warning that Turkish membership would destroy the European Union.
The German criticism, reflecting Christian Democratic and conservative views across Europe, came only days before the EU summit in Copenhagen, where leaders will decide whether to set a date for the start of negotiations with the Turks. Differences on the issue run so deep that German officials fear the complicated summit could be derailed. “Membership for Turkey would spell the end of political union in Europe. We do not have that kind of integrative strength,” said Mr Stoiber, the Christian Democratic Opposition leader. “We want a proper political union, not just a free trade zone, yet that is what we would end up with if we let in Turkey.” Germany and France agreed on a “conditional rendezvous clause” allowing the start of entry talks with Turkey in July 2005, providing Ankara satisfied the EU that it had met standards on minority rights, judicial and prison reform, institutional democracy and market economics. But Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party, has dismissed the 2005 date; he wants talks to begin as soon as Turkey passes necessary legislative reforms.