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Chirac says Turkey must make major changes for EU membership

[JURIST] French President Jacques Chirac [official website] said Tuesday at a Paris news conference [full transcript, in French] that Turkey [JURIST news archive] would need to make deep reforms in order to conform to fundamental European cultural standards - what he called "the totality of our values, our principles" - before entering the European Union [official website]. Chirac said that France would hold a referendum on approving Turkish membership in the EU, and other member states may also hold similar referendums. There was no immediate reaction to Chirac's speech in Turkey. Although accession negotiations have been officially opened [EU press release, PDF; JURIST report], it will take up to a year before technical talks begin. Later this month, EU experts will start screening Turkish policies to judge whether they meet minimum requirements to start specific talks in 35 areas [official list] called "chapters" in EU jargon. There is broad opposition among European citizens to admitting the large Muslim country to the EU, largely due to religious and economic differences and Turkey's record of human rights abuses. AP has more.

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