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Lafontaine Denies EU Candidacy

November 13, 1998

BONN, Germany (AP) _ German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine denied media reports Thursday that he was a candidate to succeed Jacques Santer as the European Commission president.

A Social Democratic European parliamentarian, Klaus Haensch, told Saarlaendischer Rundfunk radio that he is promoting Lafontaine as a candidate for the post.

``It’s Germany’s turn to occupy this post,″ Haensch said. A German last held the commission presidency from 1958-67.

Germany already has sought French support for a German candidate, the weekly Die Zeit reported in its latest edition, published Thursday.

But Lafontaine issued a statement rejecting ``rumors and speculation″ that he planned to take the Brussels job as ``nonsense.″

In Brussels, European Commission spokeswoman Martine Reichert declined to comment on the report that Lafontaine would succeed Santer, whose five-year term expires at the end of 1999.

Under EU rules, the commission president is selected by the 15 EU governments, each of which has the right to put forward a candidate, and their choice must be ratified by the European Parliament.

Lafontaine already has substantial influence in the new Social Democratic-led German government, occupying both the party’s top post and running the Finance Ministry.

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