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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider questioned Tuesday why Russia and Turkey were allowed to participate in the European soccer championships, the Euro 2008.

"What have these two countries got in common with Europe?" Haider asked in an interview published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Turkey is set to play Germany in the semifinal on Wednesday and Russia will play Spain in the other semifinal on Thursday. That means the final in Vienna on Sunday could pitch two non-EU members against each other, Russia versus Turkey.

Haider, who heads the Austrian far-right BZOe party, is opposed to Turkey's bid to join the 27-nation EU.

"The Turks could well win the final in Vienna. But Europe's gates must remain closed for Turkey," he said.

"I don't think they're in a position to accept European rules and culture."

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