French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy called on the European Union (EU) on Thursday to suspend its enlargement until the 25-nation bloc has reformed its institutions.
"I think it necessary not to proceed with any new enlargements as long as new institutions have not been adopted," Sarkozy said in a policy speech at his traditional New Year gathering with reporters.
Sarkozy's bold comments are likely to cause great concern in countries pursuing EU membership since he is widely regarded as a president hopeful in 2007's election.
In his speech, Sarkozy also recommended that the EU build up "a strategic partnership" with those countries which is not a member yet.
Sarkozy, also head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, differs with President Jacques Chirac on the EU's future path. He has long opposed Turkey's bid for EU membership.