New Austrian government plans Turkey referendum

The newly elected Austrian government has taken over plans by its predecessor to hold a referendum on Turkey’s entry to the EU, but supports an early accession of the Western Balkan countries.

The governing coalition between the Social Democrat SPÖ and the Conservative People’s Party ÖVP have laid down provisions for a referendum on Turkey’s possible EU accession in its government programme.

The document says the government will pay attention that the process of enlargement will be shaped in a careful and cautious way taking into account the EU’s absorption capacity. It further states: “a concerted and careful approaching of Turkey and its population to European values and standards is in the interest of all EU member states.”

“We support a gradual approach with the aim of a tailored Turkish-European community. The Austrian citizens will have the last word in a referendum when there is a negotiation result with the aim of accession.”

Nevertheless, the government programme insists that “European integration would be incomplete without the countries of the Western Balkans,” saying: “EU-accession negotiations with Croatia should be concluded as early as possible.”

The Turkish Ambassador in Austria Selim Yenel expressed his disappointment. He said: “We would like Austria at least to give accession a chance”.

President Jacques Chirac has repeatedly stated French intentions of holding a referendum on Turkey’s EU accession.

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