The European Summit last week was an exceptionally calm affair with European leaders with consensus rubber stamping what their foreign ministers had agreed earlier in the week mainly the unprecedented step of partially freezing Turkey‘s membership negotiations after Ankara refused to establish transport links with Cyprus.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the current EU presidency, said all 25 EU states were unanimous in backing the partial suspension of Turkey‘s year-old accession talks.

German Chancellor Angela, a Christian Democrat who strongly opposes Turkish EU membership, insisted, "These are not stricter terms – countries that want to join simply must meet the criteria," said Merkel.

Merkel, who takes over the rotating EU presidency for the first half of 2007, pledged a major push to revive the bloc’s failed constitution. Merkel said the EU had to resolve a crisis over its failed constitution – aimed at streamlining EU decision-making – before taking in any states beyond Bulgaria and Romania which will join on January 1, 2007.

"The constitutional treaty and expansion are closely linked," said Merkel, who has vowed to make revival of the constitution a top issue during Germany ‘s EU presidency.

Voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the constitution in 2005. This torpedoed the treaty which must be approved by all member states. So far 18 countries have ratified the constitution.

According to reliable sources preparing the German presidency ground work, Merkel would opt for a condensed version of the constitution which could be approved in the French and Dutch parliaments without again resorting to a referendum in both countries. Preparing for her bid to resurrect the constitution, Merkel said she had asked each member state to appoint a "Constitution Czar" to report on their respective demands.

A united Europe can achieve success, but a divided Europe weakens the strength of the EU, she said, urging the EU to speak in unison "with a strong voice" when dealing with international flashpoints.