German FM privately opposed Turkey`s EU bid: WikiLeaks

Guido Westerwelle had publicly endorsed `fair talks` on Turkey joining EU.

Berlin: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who had publicly endorsed "fair negotiations" on Turkey joining the European Union, was privately opposed to the Muslim nation getting the full membership of the 27-nation bloc, according to leaked secret US embassy documents.

The foreign minister, during his visit to Ankara in January, had assured the Turkish government "fair negotiations" on the country`s membership in the EU.

However, he had told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when he visited her in Washington soon after taking office in November, last year that such a large country cannot be integrated into the EU, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.

If Germany has to decide now about Turkey joining the EU, the answer is "clearly a no”, Westerwelle told Hillary. He told her that Turkey is not modern enough for a full membership in the EU.

However, this question will arise only in five or six years, he said, according to a report in the German news weekly Der Spiegel, which has been given access by WikiLeaks to a trove of over 250,000 classified US embassy cables.

Der Spiegel and four leading international newspapers have been publishing batches of the documents during the last 12 days, In his public statements, Westerwelle held the position that a full membership of Turkey in the EU is possible and he had called for a "fair treatment" of that country in the EU membership negotiations.

He was often on a collision course with his coalition partners Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU), which vehemently opposed a full membership and offered Turkey a "privileged partnership".

The foreign minister told the US leaders that his Free Democratic Party (FDP) wants to keep the doors open for Turkey as an incentive for structural reforms.

If Germany closes the doors now, it will have major consequences for the country`s domestic situation, he said.

During his visit to Ankara, Westewelle had spoken of Turkey`s right for a fair negotiation and a reliable negotiations partner.

The cables speculated that this may be a tactic to encourage further reforms in that country. Negotiations between the EU and Turkey on its membership have been going on since 2005.

Westerwelle was deeply embarrassed by WikiLeaks revelations last week that his top aide was an informer to US diplomats in Berlin.

Leaked US embassy cables showed that his senior personal assistant Helmut Metzner had regularly passed on confidential information about coalition negotiations to American diplomats. Metzner, who admitted the allegations, was later sacked from his office and from the FDP.