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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned EU leaders that violence from Islamic extremists could escalate if the EU rejects his country's membership bid: "There is nothing we can do if the EU feels that it can live with being simply a Christian club...but if these countries burn their bridges with the rest of the world, history will not forgive them." Turkey first applied in 1963, and it is expected that a two-day summit will finally decide whether or not membership talks will proceed. "No other country had to wait for 41 years at Europe's door. We have fulfilled all the criteria, but despite this Europeans are hesitating," the Turkish leader said in Ankara.
Accepting Turkey's 69 million, mainly Muslim, population into the Union has been widely controversial. France, Austria and Denmark are insisting that membership is not guaranteed. The French have even suggested that they will let their people decide their position in a referendum. In Germany, the leader of the Christian Social Union, Edmund Stoiber, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he and his party would do whatever it takes to prevent Turkey from being a full member of the EU.
French President Jacques Chirac had earlier floated the idea of a "privileged membership" status for Turkey, to which Mr. Erdogan has replied, "There is no such thing in the EU as privileged partnership. No other country has been offered this and there is no way that we will accept such an option for Turkey."
In any case, even if membership talks were given the green light, it is expected that Turkey would not become a member of the EU until 2014.