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French 'must vote on Turkey bid'

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French 'must vote on Turkey bid'

French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has said Turkey should not be allowed to join the European Union without a referendum in France.

He added that it could be at least 15 years before Turkey joined the EU.

An EU report on whether Ankara should start accession talks is due to be published on 6 October.

Mr Sarkozy, speaking in a television interview, said his views were based on the size of Turkey's population, rather than the fact it was a Muslim country.

"Turkey alone represents the equivalent of the entry of the 10 new eastern European countries combined - that's quite something," he told La Chaine Info television.

"Turkey means 71 million inhabitants - looking ahead to 2050, it will be 100 million, and given the new voting rules in the constitution, it would be the country with the most votes."

He said a decision "as important as Turkey entering Europe could only be taken after there had been a referendum in France, to know what the opinion of the French people is".

However, Mr Sarkozy, widely tipped as a possible candidate for the French presidential elections in 2007, said he agreed with President Jacques Chirac that Turkey must not get the impression that it was being rejected.

"There are two ways of associating it to us: either by the status of social partner with Europe - which is rather my own thinking - or you integrate it, which is rather what I don't want," he said.

Penal reform

Last week, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin questioned whether Turkey, as a predominantly Muslim country, was a suitable candidate for EU accession.

A final decision on opening talks is due to be taken at an EU summit in December. Meanwhile, Turkey has been making efforts to show that it could fit into the European club.

On Sunday, the Turkish parliament approved reforms to its penal code having abandoned a clause to criminalise adultery which had drawn criticism from EU politicians.

The European Commission, which has overseen much of the reform process, appears very pleased by how much Turkey has changed.

Others caution that many of the legal changes have yet to be implemented in any meaningful way.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3693042.stm

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As relatively progressive as Turkey is, I find it unlikely that Turkey would do well in the EU.

I have never been to Turkey, but from what I have read of the place it doesn't seem like it would be appropriate for the EU. It seems too different a country with values that are unlike the rest of the EU...

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As for my own feelings on Turkey's place in the EU, they have been made quite clear in another thread.

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Turkey's long quest to join Europe

The European Commission welcomed the adoption of a revised penal code in Turkey at the weekend.

It is one of the key elements in the country's bid to start membership negotiations with the European Union (EU).

The penal code did not include a proposal to criminalise adultery, which had triggered a bitter row between Turkey and the EU.

While the decision opens the way to a positive report on Turkey by the European Commission on 6 October, questions continue to be asked about Turkey's preparedness to join the bloc in the future.

Satisfaction

Only a week ago, Turkey's bid to begin EU entry talks was in serious doubt - the parliament had delayed the adoption of the revised penal code.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the move to criminalise adultery.

But after a snap visit to Brussels, Mr Erdogan announced that the parliament would reconvene for an emergency session to pass the revised penal code - without the controversial clause.

The parliament did so, to the satisfaction of commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori.

"Since we have said in the past weeks that the Turkish penal code is a central element of the democratisation and modernisation process in Turkey, we can of course only welcome the step," Mr Filori said.

Mr Filori repeated that the vote would allow the European Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, to make a clear recommendation on whether the EU should start entry talks with Turkey.

It is widely expected that Mr Verheugen will give Ankara the green light in a week's time.

Doubts

But several other European commissioners have expressed doubts about the consequences of the accession of such a big, poor Muslim nation. They include the Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler, and Single Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein.

Questions have also been raised in the European Parliament, during the ongoing hearings of the future members of the European Commission.

The designated Regional Policy Commissioner, Danuta Huebner, will manage over a third of the EU's annual budget.

When centre-right MEPs asked her if she had any concerns about the cost of Turkey's membership, Ms Huebner indicated that any cost calculations were purely speculative, as the country was not expected to join before 2013.

"... We should think about the consequences, but we shouldn't probably focus that much on numbers, because that will depend on the EU member states," she said.

'Irreversible'

Together with its report on 6 October, the commission will publish a study on the consequences of Turkey's EU membership.

But EU officials are against putting a price tag in terms of farming and regional subsidies.

It is a wonderful but meaningless exercise, one official told the BBC.

Even if Turkey joins around 2015, it may have to wait for a decade until it gets the full level of subsidies, the official said.

But some are already making political calculations.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier has backed calls by Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy for a referendum on Turkey before the country is allowed to join the EU.

The move is seen as an attempt to cool the public debate in France, where polls show that 56 % of people oppose Turkey's entry.

However, a referendum would have to wait another decade, since negotiations with Turkey are expected to last for many years.

The final decision to begin those negotiations will be taken in December not by referendum, but by EU leaders - and French President Jacques Chirac is on record as saying that Turkey's EU membership is "irreversible".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3697912.stm

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The problem is, that if the EU will not accept Turkey, it might very well become an Islamist country, changing sides from the west to the Islamic world.

EU rejection might be the bullet to kill the moderates of Turkey.

On the other hand, if the EU will accept Turkey with the current right winged regime, it might weaken the seculars, which are pro-Western.

That's why I think the EU should wait to next elections to see if the current Islamic Democrats are re-elected.

If they do, then EU's acceptance wouldn't influence the internal politics of Turkey, because the seculars are already in decline there.

But if the EU will reject Turkey, it might find a strong radical Islamist country on it's border.

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Chirac seeks vote on Turkey bid

French President Jacques Chirac has backed calls for France to hold a referendum on whether Turkey should enter the European Union.

He said he had asked the government to consider a constitutional amendment calling for a vote whenever the EU wants to include a new member.

Mr Chirac said a vote was not likely to take place for more than a decade.

The European Commission is expected to recommend next week that the EU open entry talks with Turkey.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of people in France oppose Turkish entry to the EU, with many concerned that it is too large, too poor and not a Christian country.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris says Mr Chirac has been worried that the French could turn next year's referendum on whether to approve the European Constitution into a vote on Turkey instead - and reject the constitution as a result.

Mr Chirac was speaking after talks with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Strasbourg.

Reassurance

He said he did not expect Turkey to be considered for EU membership for another 10 or 15 years.

"It will inevitably take a long time, and the problem for the French is to know whether they will then have their say in the matter or whether the decision will be imposed on them," he said.

"Let me immediately reassure you, the French will have their say."

Earlier this week, French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, expected to be a presidential candidate in 2007, said Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU without a referendum in France.

He said his views were based on the size of Turkey's population, rather than the fact it was a Muslim country.

Last week, the French prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, entered the debate with controversial remarks - saying that Europe should ask itself whether it wanted the river of Islam flowing into the secular river-bed of Europe.

Many French MPs argue that Turkey should instead be offered a special relationship with the EU, while stopping short of full membership.

A final decision on opening talks is due to be taken at an EU summit in December.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3707332.stm

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Turkey's EU bid 'may take decade'

Negotiations enabling Turkey to join the European Union would take at least a decade, according to two reports obtained by the BBC.

The EU documents reveal that the country has made significant progress on human rights.

They also show the cost of Turkey's EU's membership to be as much as that of the 10 mostly former communist countries that joined the EU this year.

A positive decision on membership talks is expected next week.

Muslim member

The closely-guarded reports amount to over 200 pages.

The tone of the overall assessment is positive, highlighting significant progress in all the key areas that will determine whether Turkey can begin entry talks.

The country, the reports say, has made progress on everything from the abolition of the death penalty to strengthening the fight against torture.

Turkey's geostrategic role also lays heavy in the balance.

A separate impact study on Turkish membership says that, in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks, the successful inclusion of Turkey would give clear evidence to the Muslim world that their religious beliefs are compatible with EU values such as democracy and the rule of law.

But the commission also makes clear that entry talks could last well into the next decade and that Turkey may not be eligible for full EU subsidies until 2025.

It would then receive between 17bn and 28bn euros (£11bn - £19bn) from EU coffers.

Easing fears

Such figures, though, are highly uncertain, the commission argues, because no one knows what the EU and Turkey will look like in 20 years' time.

The accession of Turkey would be challenging both for the EU and Turkey, the impact study concludes, but, if well managed, it would offer important opportunities for both.

On Wednesday, the European Commission is expected to announce a shift in its expansion strategy to ease fears about Turkey's eventual accession.

The country would be monitored more regularly and intensely than any other candidate before, with an explicit warning that membership talks could be delayed, or even halted, if it fails to continue reforms.

Making it clear that full membership is not a foregone conclusion would enable EU leaders to take one of their most controversial decisions ever at their December summit and finally announce a date for opening negotiations with Turkey.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3709110.stm

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Schroeder hails Turkish reforms

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has hailed his Turkish counterpart as a "great reformer", while promising support for the country's EU bid.

Mr Schroeder and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is visiting Berlin, said they were confident Turkey would get the go-ahead this week to open EU membership talks.

The European Commission is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the bid.

Turkey has passed sweeping reforms but has not yet met all the criteria for membership.

Documents obtained by the BBC last week suggest that negotiations on Turkey's accession would take at least a decade, and the cost of membership would be as much as that of the 10 mostly former communist countries which joined this year.

'Painful experiences'

Mr Schroeder presented Mr Erdogan with the private Quadriga award for his handling of reforms in Turkey.

The chancellor said the reforms could not be dismissed as merely a sop to Europe, citing Mr Erdogan's jail experience for reciting religious poetry.

"It is a consequence of his political convictions and also of his painful personal experiences with repression and persecution," he said.

He added that if the European Commission recommended opening accession talks Germany would throw its weight behind the bid.

Mr Erdogan said his government was determined to carry the reforms through to the end, adding that he would settle only for full membership negotiations and not the "privileged partnership" suggested by Germany's opposition.

"Anyone who calls into question whether Turkey can be a full member is not respecting the procedures," he told German TV. "We have done our homework. Now it's for those who set this homework to do what is necessary."

He said Turkish membership would mean a "reconciliation of civilisations".

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3712262.stm

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Turkey defiant over EU accession

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said the EU should attach no special conditions to Turkey's bid to start negotiations on membership.

He said such conditions were "out of the question".

His comments come as the European Commission's president-elect Jose Manuel Barroso said he welcomed plans for a French referendum on the matter.

The commission is expected to announce a positive decision on the start of talks with Turkey on Wednesday.

But it is expected to recommend that Turkey face stricter controls during the negotiation process than the 10 countries who joined the EU this year, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.

Mr Barroso said a democratic debate on the issue of Turkey joining the union was necessary.

"It is a mistake to assume that a decision of this importance can be taken against the will of Europeans," he said.

December decision

Enlargement Commissioner-designate Olli Rehn, who takes over from Guenter Verheugen next month, said on Monday that Turkey must be given the chance to join the EU.

He told a confirmation hearing in the European Parliament that Turkey's commitment to human rights and the rule of law would have to be closely monitored.

EU leaders will announce their final decision on whether to formally open negotiations with Turkey at a summit in December.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3714746.stm

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EU poised to welcome Turkish bid

The European Commission is expected to announce on Wednesday that Turkey is now ready to begin full negotiations on joining the European Union.

Commission officials are due to report on the progress Turkey has already made, along with Bulgaria and Romania.

The final decision on Turkey rests with the leaders of all 25 EU member states in December - with accession years off.

The Commission's recommendation will mark an important moment in an increasingly impassioned debate.

But it is expected to warn that even if full membership negotiations start soon, Turkey cannot join until well into the next decade.

Forty years ago, the club of Europe held out the prospect of eventual Turkish membership. On Wednesday, Turkey will take a big step closer.

Reforms

The Turkish government has already pushed through a huge number of economic and political reforms, particularly over the last three years.

But Commission officials will warn that, even were full membership negotiations to start soon, it would still be well into the next decade before Turkey could join.

The Commission is likely to point out that respect for human rights may have improved - but torture, religious discrimination and violence against women are still all too rife.

There also need to be big economic adjustments - from the EU as well as Turkey - given how poor Turkey is and how big its agricultural sector.

To the Turkish government's dismay, the new commissioner in charge of EU enlargement, Olli Rehn, has talked about giving the EU permanent powers to close its borders if large numbers of Turks want to migrate.

In a speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had "done its task".

"Now the EU must do its task. They're the ones being tested now. If we don't want a clash of civilisations, but to succeed at reconciliation, Turkey must take its place in the EU."

Even if the EU's officials and politicians say yes, the people may say no.

The French government has announced it wants to hold a referendum, eventually, on whether Turkey should join.

At the moment, popular support in France - as with some other countries - appears weak.

Opposition centres on Turkey's size, its relative poverty and the fact that it is Muslim.

The European Commission is also expected to confirm that Bulgaria and Romania are on track to join the EU in 2007, and Croatia to start negotiations next year.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3719052.stm

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EU paves way for Turkey to join

The European Commission has recommended opening talks on the admission of Turkey to the EU - but Ankara must meet stiff conditions, EU officials say.

Commission officials are reporting on the progress Turkey has already made, along with Bulgaria and Romania.

The final decision on Turkey rests with the leaders of all 25 EU member states in December - with accession years off.

The Commission's recommendation is a milestone in an increasingly impassioned debate.

The decision was reached by a "large consensus" among commissioners, one EU official said, but no vote was taken.

There was also no recommended date to start negotiations with Turkey.

EU monitoring

"It is a qualified yes," EU Commission President Romano Prodi told European parliament leaders.

"It's flanked with a whole series of recommendations for monitoring and verifying what the situation is actually like."

Mr Prodi said Turkey would have to improve its human rights record if the talks were to succeed and warned that Turkish membership was not a foregone conclusion.

It is expected that even if full membership negotiations start soon, Turkey will not be able to join until well into the next decade.

The European Commission also confirmed that Bulgaria and Romania were on track to join the EU in 2007 and Croatia to start negotiations next year.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced the hope that accession negotiations would start in the first half of 2005.

And Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul hailed the EU recommendation as an "historic step".

Forty years ago, the club of Europe held out the prospect of eventual Turkish membership.

Reforms

The Turkish government has already pushed through a huge number of economic and political reforms, particularly over the last three years.

But the Commission is likely to point out that respect for human rights may have improved - but torture, religious discrimination and violence against women are still all too rife.

There also need to be big economic adjustments - from the EU as well as Turkey - given how poor Turkey is and how big its agricultural sector.

To the Turkish government's dismay, the new commissioner in charge of EU enlargement, Olli Rehn, has talked about giving the EU permanent powers to close its borders if large numbers of Turks want to migrate.

In a speech in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had "done its task".

"Now the EU must do its task. They're the ones being tested now. If we don't want a clash of civilisations, but to succeed at reconciliation, Turkey must take its place in the EU."

Even if the EU's officials and politicians say yes, the people may say no.

The French government has announced it wants to hold a referendum, eventually, on whether Turkey should join.

At the moment, popular support in France - as with some other countries - appears weak.

Opposition centres on Turkey's size, its relative poverty and the fact that it is Muslim.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3719052.stm

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Analysis: EU's Turkish challenge

By Paul Reynolds

BBC News Online world affairs correspondent

Turkey's accession to the European Union would not only bring a huge Muslim population into the EU, but would extend its boundaries deep into the Caucasus mountains and down towards the plains of ancient Mesopotamia.

The EU would have borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Georgia and Armenia.

For some this would be a good thing. Turkey was once the "sick man of Europe" as its empire began to decay and other powers circled around, fighting each other, as in Crimea.

Turkey as a bridge

Now it would be a link between East and West, between a continent with a Christian history and a land of Muslim faith in which both would respect religion, but not rely on religion to determine the course of government.

It would extend the ties developed with Turkey through Nato into the more fundamental ties of political association.

It would build on the strong secular nature of Turkish public life forged by the great Kemal Ataturk, who fought the British at Gallipoli before leaving a legacy of modernism influential to this day.

Turkey's acceptance, it is felt, would erase the centuries of conflict in which the Ottoman Empire sought to stretch its hand into Europe and where memories of battles against the Turk still linger.

The EU, after all, is designed not to forget history but to overcome it.

The siege of Vienna

Only recently was one such battle, the siege of Vienna in 1683, invoked by a European commissioner to argue against Turkish entry.

"The liberation of 1683 would have been in vain," declared Dutch commissioner Frits Bolkenstein.

In that siege, it was the Polish King Jan Sobieski who led a force which drove the Turks away. How appropriate, those favouring Turkish entry now argue, that Catholic Poland and Muslim Turkey might one day join together in the Union.

How much more compelling would be a final rapprochement between Greece and Turkey - and a settlement in Cyprus which would obviously have to be part of any accession agreement.

An enlargement too far?

For others, Turkey would be an enlargement too far. Turkey is not really a European country, they argue, despite its foothold on the European continent across the Bosphorus.

Its population, already 69 million, is second only to that of Germany, which has 82m. But projections for Turkey's people go up and for Germany's go down so that by mid-century, Turkey would probably have the largest population in the EU.

That population, it is further argued, would be mainly Muslim and despite the influence of the secular Ataturk, the influence of the fervent Enver Pasha might one day prevail.

Enver Pasha, one of the "Young Turks" who overthrew the remnants of the Ottoman sultanate, had a vision of extending Turkish and Muslim rule to the peoples of the Caucasus. During World War I, he threw his lot in with the central powers of Germany and Austria and attacked the Russians during a winter campaign, which proved disastrous.

The Armenian people of eastern Turkey were force-marched south and west, in one of the earliest examples of ethnic cleansing in the 20th Century.

But it is not the past as much as the future which worries some modern European governments.

One basic rule of the EU is the free movement of goods and people. The prospect of millions of poor Anatolians flooding into the EU is one which easily raises European concerns. Restrictions on such movement for some years might well form part of accession conditions.

The third view

There is a third view - that accession talks might not even lead to Turkish membership.

John Palmer, political director of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said: "It is certain that the EU will set a date for negotiations with Turkey at the summit in December.

"The reforms are sufficient for talks, but not yet sufficient for membership. They will be unusual talks. Both sides agree that it will be 15 to 20 years before a decision is required. In my opinion, Turkey will not worry about the time. What matters is that the process of Turkish transformation is linked to the process of negotiation.

"The separate question is whether at the end of this, there will be a yes decision by both sides. I do not think that there is a pre-ordained outcome to that."

Turkey will force the EU to debate what it is and what it wants to be.

I first became aware that Turkey might not be a welcome member of the European club in 1984, when Claude Cheysson, who had just ended a spell as French foreign minister, asked a group of British correspondents over an excellent dinner in Strasbourg: "Is Turkey European?"

Being an accomplished diplomat, he had avoided giving a direct reply about Turkish membership and accompanied his own question with a shrug of the shoulders and a quizzical smile. Turkey was something to be left for another year - or century. We moved on to the cheese.

His question has not yet been fully answered.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3719418.stm

Well I must admit, Turkish membership worries me

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Turkey hails EU entry progress

Turkish politicians have welcomed the recommendation by EU officials that Ankara begin talks on entry to the EU.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul described the decision as historic and said that Turkey was walking on the EU path.

But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the same criteria should apply for Turkey as for other member states.

The European Commission's recommendations are dependent on continued improvements in the country's human rights record.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Istanbul says people on the streets of Turkey believe that one of the last hurdles to EU membership has just been passed.

The final decision on Turkey rests with the leaders of all 25 EU member states in December - with accession years off.

Mr Erdogan's government has pushed through a major programme of reforms aimed at bringing Turkey's human rights legislation into line with European standards.

Referendum 'unjust'

Mr Erdogan said Turkey would continue to push for the adoption of the recommendations in December.

He voiced the hope that accession negotiations would start in the first half of 2005.

"Turkey does not want different treatment," he said at a news conference in Strasbourg after the recommendations were made, quoted by Anatolia news agency.

"...I do not suppose there would be any negative approach after today's positive report."

But he described a proposal last week by French President Jacques Chirac to hold a national referendum on Turkish entry to the EU as very unjust.

"This will harm a country's motivation," he said.

"I believe our interlocutors will behave honestly. Otherwise the EU, which is a union of civilizations, will be unsuccessful at the end of this process."

Our correspondent says that many people in Turkey believed that the country had fully complied with the demands of the commission.

'Large consensus'

Commission officials have been reporting on the progress Turkey has already made, along with Bulgaria and Romania.

The decision was reached by a "large consensus" among commissioners, one EU official said, but no vote was taken.

There was also no recommended date to start negotiations with Turkey.

"It is a qualified yes," EU Commission President Romano Prodi told European parliament leaders.

Mr Prodi said Turkey would have to improve its human rights record if the talks were to succeed and warned that Turkish membership was not a foregone conclusion.

It is expected that even if full membership negotiations start soon, Turkey will not be able to join until well into the next decade.

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3721998.stm

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Wow, turkey in the EU. that would be interesting to see. It would be nice to see (as said in the above article) a bridge to the middle east via Turkey. Erikl is right in that the EU is in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" position with Turkey; you can let them in whether they are ready or not; or risk offending them and giving support to the anti-westerners there.

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Turkey's induction will hopefully take decades to come.

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why would any one join in EU, when they where 7 they could manage them selfs pretty easly, but now it's all a big fiscal and numerical mess.

Same goes for the euro, the dutch mark (or something) and the british pound lost alot of waite on converting to euro, in fact there's group poping up every where in Germany and Angland to be able to disunite, the Swiss knew that was a bad idea(or are they just avoiding every "euro" affaire as possible)

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... the Britihs never joined the Euro rolleyes.gif and everyone wants to join the EU because their Second World Nations who want the payments it gives members rolleyes.gif

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lol the pound is doing mighty fine my friend.

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