Turkey's campaign to join the European Union within the next few years was dealt what appeared to be a fatal blow Wednesday when German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel asserted here that Turkey was far from the standard expected of new members.
"It is clear that Turkey will not become a member of the European Union in the foreseeable future," Kinkel said after meeting with Turkish leaders.
He said Turkey did not qualify because of its record on "human rights, the Kurdish question, relations with Greece and of course very clear economic questions."
In recent months senior Turkish leaders declared that early membership in the European Union was the country's principal foreign policy goal.
While rejecting Turkish hopes for quick membership in the European Union, Kinkel assured his hosts that Turkey "belongs to Europe" and is regarded as "an important country with great responsibilities." Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller seized on those assurances to try to extract something positive from a strikingly negative message.
"We are on the main track to Europe, not on some outside track," she asserted.
Elsewhere . . .
+ BEIJING _ About 20 people were killed and more than 40 injured when an apartment building collapsed in China's southeastern Fujian province.
+ TOKYO _ A strong earthquake shook buildings, triggered landslides and injured at least 22 people on Japan's southern main island Wednesday.
+ WASHINGTON _ The evacuation of U.S. and other civilians from Albania is complete, the Pentagon said Wednesday, but about 100 Marines will remain in the capital Tirana to protect the U.S. Embassy and its housing compound.
+ WASHINGTON _ The United States ordered the expulsion of a Belarus diplomat Wednesday in retaliation for what Washington called the "unwarranted and unjustified" ouster of an American diplomat monitoring an anti-government march Sunday in Minsk, the capital of Belarus.