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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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French consul discusses European Union

As the war with Iraq continued for the eighth day Thursday, France’s consul general assured an audience at Texas A&M that the country remains “friends and allies” with the United States.
Wearing a pin displaying the French and American flags on his suit jacket, the Honorable Denis Simonneau discussed the enlargement of the European Union with a crowd of about 50 people in the Memorial Student Center’s J. Wayne Stark Gallery.
Although Simonneau’s speech focused on the European Union, he began his speech talking about the current situation in Iraq.
The EU is comprised of 15 member states including France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Italy.
According to the EU Web site (http://europa.eu.int/), the union started with just six countries after World War II when France proposed the creation of a “concrete foundation of a European federation.” To join the EU, countries must apply and prove that they adhere to a set of criteria requiring the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the existence of a functioning market economy and the CONSUL ability to adhere to the aims of the economic, political and monetary union.
Thirteen Eastern European countries are currently seeking accession into the EU. Simonneau said this potential enlargement is an historic occasion because the candidate states would bring into the union differing economic, social and historical situations.
Negotiations have been closed by the Commission concerning Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, with these new members expected to join the EU before the June 2004 European Parliament elections, according to the EU Web site. Negotiations have not yet begun with Turkey, because the country does not yet meet the political criteria to join the EU.
Simonneau said he supports Turkey’s admission into the EU because the country is more geographically tied to Western Europe than other countries that have applied for membership.
Opponents of Turkey’s accession into the EU cite religious differences and the country’s noncompliance with human rights issues essential to the EU as reasons Turkey should not be allowed to join the union, Simmonneau said.
Arif Oduncu, a senior electrical engineering major from Turkey, said he was disappointed with Simmoneau’s prediction that it will take Turkey 10 years to join the EU. Oduncu said he hoped the wait would be five years or less.
Simonneau works at the French Consulate in Houston. His speech was in accordance with the first French forum sponsored by the consulate general of France in Houston, the French Section of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and the European Union Center.

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