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The BBC's Justin Webb
"This time police are taking no chances"
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UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
"Such protests must not and will not disrupt the proper workings of democratic organisations"
 real 56k

Slovenia's Europe Minister, Igor Bavcar
"I am sure the enlargement will go ahead"
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Belgian Journalist, Mia Doornaert
"We are looking forward to this Presidency"
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Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 20:31 GMT 21:31 UK
EU sets date for expansion
Protesters have condemned the police action
European Union leaders have ended their summit in Sweden by sending a strong signal that the first new members may join as early as 2004.

The leaders of the 15-member EU said the aim was for the most promising candidate countries to take part in European Parliament elections in 2004 "as members" after concluding entry talks by the end of 2002.

The final summit statement was applauded by central European and Mediterranean states as an important step forward.

The Gothenburg summit has been overshadowed by violent clashes between demonstators and police - the most serious civil disorder in Sweden's recent history.

'Step forward'

Inside the heavily guarded summit, the EU leaders said the process of enlargement was "irreversible" - in spite of Ireland's 7 June referendum which in effect rejected enlargement proposed in the Treaty of Nice.

Goran Persson
Swedish PM Persson said violence was a tragedy
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "It's important these countries come in. We're talking about the security and prosperity of millions of people."

The statement was welcomed by Poland's European affairs minister, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. He said the mention of 2004 as a target date for entry "motivated Poland to accelerate the membership negotiations.

Poland is the largest in a group of leading candidate countries that also includes Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Cyprus.

The EU began entry talks with the leading contenders in 1998, and with other countries in 2000.

Slovenia's European affairs minister, Igor Bavcar, said he was "highly appreciative" of the EU statement, while Lithuanian Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas called it a "step forward".

The EU leaders also decided to press ahead with implementation of the 1997 Kyoto protocol on global warming despite its rejection by US President George W Bush.

They said they would lobby other nations to ratify the treaty and planned missions to Japan, Australian and Canada.

Summit chairman and Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson said: "Kyoto is the only tool we have... I think we have a moral responsibility to go ahead with it."


The summit was played out against a backdrop of violent protests.

Thousands of anti-globalisation protesters again took to the streets on Saturday, waving anti-EU and anti-globalisation banners and chanting slogans such as "Tax the rich not the poor".

Police officer
Officials said police used live rounds of ammunition on Friday
There was a good-humoured atmosphere as marchers covered a four kilometre (2.5 mile) route on the outskirts of the city. The route was changed overnight to avoid the battle-scarred city centre.

However mingling with the protesters were about 1,000 marchers wearing black hoods and masks, shouting "Smash capitalism" and gesturing at police. About another 1,000 waved red and black anarchist flags.

Hundreds of people have been detained temporarily since Thursday, and police said on Saturday that 63 were still in custody."

Prime Minister Persson described the situation in the city as a "tragedy".

Friday's violence appeared to veer out of control when a police officer used live ammunition against the demonstrators.

Some EU leaders have condemned the violence
Officials said live rounds were used because rubber-coated bullets and teargas were not available, and that the officer opened fire in self-defence. One of three men who were shot remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Mr Persson said his government was to set up a working group to see if Swedish police should be empowered to use teargas and water cannon to quell riots.

Police believe a group of about 2,000 anarchists, many from abroad, had been behind most of the trouble. They said the foreigners were mainly from Denmark and Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Baltic nations.

Sweden's National Police Commissioner Sten Heckscher said his officers had done a "fabulous" job patrolling the EU summit.

"I readily admit there have been things happening on the streets of Gothenburg that no-one wants to see," he said.

"But if you compare the outcome... with what could have happened if police had not done their job, I think the police have carried out the task in an absolutely fabulous way."

'Anarchists' travelling circus'

The violent protests have been condemned by some of those attending the summit.

Mr Blair blamed an "anarchists' travelling circus" for the violence, and urged fellow leaders not to "concede an inch" to the demonstrators.

French President Jacques Chirac said: "The behaviour of these rioters is of course the antithesis of all the humanistic values embodied today in essence by the peoples of Europe, both those intent on advancing in the construction of Europe, and those impatiently waiting to join this European Union."

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See also:

16 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Blair: Anarchists will not stop us
16 Jun 01 | Europe
Swedish press critical of rioters
15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Blair denounces EU protesters
15 Jun 01 | Europe
Gothenburgers count the cost
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