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Last Updated: Monday, 26 May, 2003, 04:06 GMT 05:06 UK
Vatican doubt over Turkey EU bid
Questions over whether Turkey falls 'outside the limits'
Just over a month before Italy takes over the presidency of the European Union, two senior figures in the Vatican have publicly questioned the suitability of Turkey for eventual EU membership.

The foreign secretary of the papal state, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera there should be geographical limits to the EU.

He also called for an emphasis on sharing what he called the heritage of European values.

As work on the future European constitution advances, the Vatican has been placing heavy emphasis on the EU's Christian roots.

It has had some success in that the draft agrees that the status given by national legislations to churches and religious associations, and relations with them, should be respected.

"I hope all that will be confirmed in the final version," Archbishop Tauran told Corriere della Sera.

But the Roman Catholic church is less happy with the preamble, where it wants to see reference to "religious, and specially Christian, heritage" in the basic text.

"Even the more general mention of 'religious heritage' would not be enough," he said.

Another senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, said the EU had been posed an extremely delicate problem by the application from Turkey, which he described as a deeply Muslim country with a fast-growing population.

Cardinal Ruini, who is head of the Conference of Italian Bishops, did however say that admitting Turkey to the EU would improve the lot of its small Christian minority.

Country profile: Turkey
04 May 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Vatican
20 May 03  |  Country profiles

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