October 11, 2005
EU ACCESSION: 'ZERO-HOUR' COMES, EU AGREES TO TALK TURKEY WITH TURKEY
** Media hail "last-ditch" efforts to stave off "stalemate" as "stand-off" ends.
** Accession supporters decry "panic" over EU "Islamification," tout prospects for prosperity.
** Euro critics declare EU-Turkey expansion exposes the Union's "umpteenth" identity "crisis."
'Back from the brink'-- Most Euro writers expressed relief that despite "11th hour" demands from Austria to reach a "last-minute compromise," negotiations over Turkey's accession to the EU were given the "green light." Analysts labeled the success a "triumph" on the part of the British EU presidency, while many praised Secretary of State Rice for "pulling the strings" to rescue the stalled talks. A German writer faulted Europe for leaving Turkey "in the EU waiting-room" for 40 years and advised anything short of "concrete prospects of accession" would strip the EU of its "credibility" and "alienate" Turkey "once and for all." Austrian papers suggested that Vienna's "tactical delaying" served the dual purpose of advocating "Croatia's interest" before the EU while strengthening Austria's role in the region. Turkey's Islamist-intellectual Zaman judged "the important thing" now is how the talks "play out." Editorialists predicted a long, difficult process in which "success is not guaranteed."
Transforming the 'clash of civilizations'-- Western and Asian accession supporters described Turkey as a "bridge between the West and the Middle East." Britain's conservative Times, noting Turkey's accession would "profoundly alter the character of the EU more than any other country in almost 50 years," urged the EU to "embrace diversity" and "open the fold." A Czech political weekly held that Europe does not face the "dilution" of its "values, principles and rules." In fact, declared one French writer, it is in the EU's best interest for economic and geopolitical reasons to "anchor Turkey to the continent" in order to generate "stability, progress and prosperity for all." Canada's centrist La Presse welcomed the "extension of Europe towards the East," but warned "making it a viable reality is another story." Turkish dailies hailed the "walk to the West" as a "real turning point."
EU's 'deep crisis'-- Some Euro dailies treated the accession crisis as a symptom of an overarching organizational malaise. EU leaders, "distanced from the hearts and minds" of their constituents, had elicited "xenophobic hostility" by nominating Turkey to join the "closed Christian club." They saw Turkey "taking the blame" for the EU's "internal problems," postponing the core debate over identity, goals and boundaries. An Italian observer noted Turkey's EU entrance would likely preclude the "consolidation of a strong EU identity." A Belgian paper questioned the EU "behemoth's" ability to function as its "absorption" capacity is "limited." Kosovo's independent Koha Ditor predicted many "paradoxes" for the EU as it approaches a "moment of truth." Turkey's centrist Milliyet said the "real debate" over the EU's prospects had to do with its structural weaknesses; if the EU doesn’t "put itself in order" soon it will be "defunct," one French paper contended.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Susan L. Emerson
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 128 reports from 21political entities over 23 September - 6 October, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "European Elites Can't Ignore The Views Of Their Peoples"
Columnist Jonathan Freedland opined in the left-of-center Guardian (10/5): "The optimists reckon the carrot of EU membership will persuade Turkey to keep on changing.... This is what Europhiles mean when they speak of the 'soft power' of the union, the capacity to draw countries towards democracy through the magnetic pull of EU-style prosperity and stability. How much better, and more effective, than the 'hard power' of George Bush: democracy delivered by bombs from the sky and boots on the ground. Yet Europhiles should not be too smug too soon.... The European dreamers still have grand plans...as if they have replaced one driving goal with another. The obsession used to be ever deeper, federalist integration; now it is ever wider expansion. But if they pursue the new ambition the way they chased the last one, with scant regard for the people they claim to represent, it will meet the same fate: failure."
"Britain Persuades The EU To Talk Turkey"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (10/4): "[The EU] now has a chance to redeem its reputation by negotiating in good faith with a Muslim country that has boldly persisted with its claim to a European future while the relationship between the Islamic world and the West has soured. Absorbing a poor country of some 70 million will not be easy. But the negotiations and the transition period thereafter are expected to be protracted, giving Turkey ample time to pass further reforms and European leaders to prepare their electorates for the integration of a vibrant democracy that straddles the great cultural divide of our age."
"Back From The Brink"
The left-of-center Guardian commented (10/4): "Governments need to work harder to convince their own electorates that this historic enlargement is the right policy. It is important to remember that it will be 10 years or more before Turkey meets all EU terms. When it does it will be richer than now and there will have been many more changes for the better. For Europe to have rejected this secular Muslim democracy would have been extremely short-sighted, the worst pandering to populism and prejudice. Sighs of relief are in order. But don't hold your breath."
"Stalling Turkey: Political Courage Is Needed To Sell The EU Enlargement Story"
The independent Financial Times argued (10/4): "The 25 governments have failed not merely to sell the idea of future enlargement, but also to persuade their electorates that the last one was a good idea. That has contributed to the present enlargement fatigue.... In a world of dynamic competition from emerging economies, EU enlargement is the right answer to increase European competitiveness, and keep the continent open to new ideas and influences. Opening the door to Turkey is an essential step, and one to be welcomed, not begrudged."
"Let Talks Begin: A Moment Of History For Europe And Turkey"
The conservative Times retorted (10/4): "There is...no reason for those who fear the 'Islamification' of Europe, or a flood of low-wage Turkish laborers seeking work, to panic. But there is every reason to seize this opportunity for the EU to do in Turkey what it does best--transform once-repressive regimes with the incentive of a place in the European, and thus the global, economy.... To deny Turkey the chance of EU membership would be a betrayal of its reformers. To grant it would prove to a skeptical Muslim world that when Europe talks about embracing diversity, it means exactly what it says."
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail went on to say (10/4): "There is a strong case for Turkey's entry into the EU.... How depressing, then, that the EU should come within a whisker of reneging on its agreement to open accession talks because of Austria's xenophobic hostility. Vienna may have backed down at the 11th hour but with opposition to Turkey strong in both France and Germany, who would be bold enough to predict that Ankara will ever become an EU capital?"
"Why Not Look At Europe From Turkey's View?"
Columnist Maureen Freely commented in center-left Independent (10/3): "Is Turkey ready to join the EU? As the debate rages on, there is only one constant--the appalling pan-European ignorance about the country and its history.... Ask Turks what it's like to be lectured to by sanctimonious Europeans who don't do their homework, and they'll tell you: it's like the end of the First World War, when the Allied occupiers were preparing to parcel out most of what is now modern Turkey to its neighbours. Or put it this way: for historical reasons, they don't trust us. For obvious reasons, they don't like being insulted. If we fail to bring Turkey into the European fold, and if Turkey--angered, misunderstood, and disrespected--moves away from social democracy, we have only ourselves to blame."
"Energetic, Honest And Transformed--So Why Does Turkey Need Us Anyway?"
Norman Stone, Professor of History at Koc University, Istanbul, observed in the conservative Times (10/3): "The country has been doing so well that you wonder if it really needs to join Europe at all.... Can Turkey stand the unemployment, bureaucracy and taxation that the EU really portends? Up to the Turks. But there are those of us who might think that they can carry out the beneficial changes on their own and who might even say that, if they really want membership of the EU, they can have ours."
"Time To Talk To Turkey"
The left-of-center Guardian (9/30) asserted: "Turkey, once plagued by military coups, torture and hyper-inflation, has met the EU's criteria for membership.... Even if implementation of new laws has been patchy in Kurdish areas the very prospect of EU membership has been a powerful spur to unprecedented reform.... [But] Turkey's secular Muslim democracy has demonstrated that it is ready to join a tolerant, multicultural Europe. Let the final deal be done and the talks commence."
"Accession Talks Must Go Ahead"
The center-left Independent claimed (9/30): "An emergency meeting of foreign ministers has been called in Luxembourg on Sunday in a last-ditch effort to save the talks. Agreement will be far from easy.... The real worry is that time is slipping away from these talks. Opposition to Turkish membership is building in the Union, while nationalist antagonism to Europe's prevarications and changes of mind is rising in Turkey. If negotiations are to proceed, then the timetable has to be kept. If ever there was a time for Tony Blair to exercise his undoubted skills of charm and persuasion, it is now. Otherwise an historic opportunity may be lost, with incalculable effect on future relations with the Muslim world."
The conservative Times editorialized (9/29): "There must be no alternative to talks on full Turkish EU membership. The formal opening of accession talks with Turkey in London due to begin on Monday would mark a pivotal moment in the development of the European Union. Turkish membership would alter the character of the EU more profoundly than the accession of any other country in almost 50 years.... The nearer the formal start comes, however, the greater the dissent, backsliding and outright opposition to Turkish membership by EU governments and fretful publics.... What politicians in Strasbourg, Paris and Berlin are hoping is that a piqued Turkey will itself flounce out of the talks. For what they fear has, at heart, little to do with agricultural costs, and is Turkey's human rights record of the tortuous Cyprus negotiations. It is, more crudely, the atavistic clash of civilizations--the contention that a Europe based on Christian values and culture has no place in its midst for a Muslim nation.... To reject Turkey on these grounds is not only dishonorable but wrong; it is to ignore the entire Ataturk legacy and the huge strides that Turkey, as a secular nation (as are also all the members of the EU), had made towards democracy."
FRANCE: "Europe’s Guardrails"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin insisted in Catholic La Croix (10/5): "Europe is sending a message of universal scope by accepting, at least in principle, the idea of a Muslim member state. In this day and age when Islam is torn by fundamentalism, this is good news. But Turkey is not assured of joining the EU. Guardrails have been raised and the possibility of failure in the negotiations has been clearly included in the text. The EU must be able to absorb a new member...and the final decision will need to be ratified by all members.... By signing with Turkey, the EU has honored its commitment, but after having implemented protective guardrails. The ball is now in Ankara's hands. The Turks are facing a daunting task."
"Running Ahead Of Itself"
Patrick Sabatier held in left-of-center Liberation (10/5): "The most surprising is that the reactions from both sides was: 'negotiations always end up with the country joining the EU.' This in spite of the guardrails of protection inscribed in the negotiations' criteria. Not surprising then if, in the face of so much resignation, skepticism and mistrust towards Europe’s expansion are growing.... It would have been nice to say that the process followed a visionary strategy.... Unfortunately it was the result of bartering in favor of Croatia and the need to avoid another EU failure.... There was no room made for a debate about Turkey. A much needed debate to keep the EU from dissolving and becoming a vast free trade zone."
"Two Weddings And A Funeral"
Sylvie Goulard of Sciences Po asserted in left-of-center Liberation (10/5): "Austria’s Ursula Plassnik was not strong enough to resist. She finally had to cave in. Great Britain’s presidency comes out triumphant. Condoleezza Rice, who pulled the strings from Washington, can be satisfied. The so-called 'visionaries' who are only trying to avoid a 'clash between civilizations,' the 'modernists' and the 'good guys' have won. The 'retrogrades' who favor a small-minded and necessarily Christian Europe, 'the bad guys' have lost.... But Ursula Plassnik did Europe a great favor. She was our minister, the only spokesperson for about 230 million Europeans who are hostile to Turkey’s membership.... Ten or one hundred years of negotiations will not be enough to make Turkey a European country without boundaries with Iran and Iraq. Many Europeans legitimately oppose the idea of Europe going that far.... Turkey and Croatia will join a defunct EU."
Left-of-center Le Monde commented (10/4): "France’s ‘no’ vote to the EU constitution and the stalled EU expansion are not an accident. The poll conducted in Europe shows that except for Spain, the predominant feeling about Europe is one of doubt. Europe is neither reassuring nor does it make anyone dream. Worse even, it is a source of worry. This is particularly true of France...which was one of the European Community’s founding nations: for the French, the bottom line in the European adventure is mainly negative.... This is not only a major challenge for France, it is a challenge for Europe. Our politicians have the difficult job of convincing the French that Europe is a pre-condition for collective prosperity."
"Europe, A Foundation For Peace"
Jean-Claude Arbona wrote in regional La Nouvelle Republique du Centre Ouest (10/4): "We must learn to reason in global terms and on a wider scale. Closing the door to Turkey would mean pushing Turkey away from Europe and towards Asia. Turkey might have resented this and maybe made us pay for our gesture sometime in the future. Europe/Asia, Christianity/Islam: the EU is right to avoid a vain clash between civilizations. Peace is the foundation of Europe’s construction."
"Turkey And Popular Fears"
Franck de Bondt opined in regional Sud Ouest (10/4): "In an open world, should not Europe’s frontiers be recognizable by its common values? Must we, in the name of popular fears, turn our backs on Turkey and leave it to seek a relationship with Russia or Muslim radicalism? The lack of satisfaction with Europe expressed by the Germans and the French does not justify our missing this historic opportunity."
Dominique Quinio asserted in Catholic La Croix (10/3): "Until the end Europe will have been divided on Turkey.... These last minute discussions illustrate the hesitations of many governments, not only Austria, and the reticence of many a public opinion on Turkey’s EU membership, which is not a given.... Many arguments are put forward against Turkey, including its position on the Armenian genocide and Cyprus.... But many fear the membership of a Muslim country: without it being said, it is a fact that people fear Islam. The EU-25 has learned the hard way that Europe’s expansion, if implemented too quickly and without consulting public opinion, exposes them to dangers. But mostly the questions surrounding Turkey’s membership reveal Europe’s psychological fragility: its foundation is not strong enough to absorb Turkey. If Europe were stronger, more united about a joint project, it would see Turkey’s membership as a wonderful and peaceful challenge. Because Europe has not reached this point it needs more time. And so do the future potential candidates."
"The Clandestine Relationship Between Paris And Ankara"
Luc de Barochez faulted in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/3): "Never has France’s diplomacy been so out of tune with its public opinion. And rarely has France’s foreign policy been decided by only one man, the President, as it is today.... Is France encouraging the negotiations with Turkey in good faith? France continues to be Turkey’s major ally within the EU.... But like a forbidden relationship, the relationship between Ankara and Paris remains discreet. Chirac continues to believe that the West’s interests, Europe’s role in world affairs, and its relationship to Islam…will be better served with Turkey.... Yet, officially, nothing is being stated. And Istanbul and Ankara do not appreciate this lack of clarity. Turkey’s elite is distancing itself from a partner it no longer fully trusts. France’s previous attitude towards Poland led to a loss of credit in Poland. The same could happen today with Turkey."
Patrick Sabatier criticized in left-of-center Liberation (9/30): "The Turks are as divided as the Europeans on the question of their membership to the EU. The europhiles among them see this membership as a step towards modernizing their country and as a possibility for future prosperity. But the nationalists, whether politically from the left or the right, cultivate a sort of europhobia.... Turkish europhobes are gaining sway, on a par with Turkophobe Europeans. And yet no one can deny that economically EU membership is in Turkey’s interest. Just as, from a strategic point of view, it is in the EU’s interest to anchor Turkey to the continent."
"A Warning To Turkey"
Pierre Avril highlighted in right-of-center Le Figaro (9/29): "The prospect of the October 3rd negotiations with Turkey hit a sensitive nerve yesterday in Strasbourg among the European Parliamentarians who voted and adopted a firm resolution criticizing the dilly dallying of the Turkish government regarding Cyprus and its policies on freedom of speech. In so doing they also insisted on the ‘open’ nature of the process of negotiations. Under pressure from the French socialists, they also stipulated that recognizing the Armenian genocide would be a prerequisite to the EU membership. Although EU Parliamentary positions are not legally binding, the recommendations will make the negotiations even tougher."
GERMANY: "They Say Yes And No"
Michael Thumann observed in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (10/6): "Turkey needs honest courts, transparent laws, a stable society with equal rights for Kurds and Christians.... It would then be likely that Turkey will no longer need the Europe as a catalyst in ten years. With its potential, it could become a tiger state. The proximity to the EU could help the country, even if it never joins the community."
"The Wrong Path"
Günther Nonnenmacher editorialized in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/5): "The argument that Europe could demonstrate that there is no clash of civilizations and weaken radical Islamists if Turkey became an EU member is far-fetched. Millions of Muslims living in European nation states do not have to fear disadvantages because of their religion. In addition to that, Islamists could understand EU expansion to Asia as a hostile takeover, and see a further westernized Turkey as an opponent, who has to be fought. Turkey is one of the bridges between Occident and Orient. However, it must solve the problems originating from this situation itself. Europe should comprehensively help the country in doing that, which is also in its own interest. That would be a privileged partnership."
"Time For A New Union"
Gerold Büchner noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/5): "Both sides will change and must be ready to give up outdated ticks and traditions for a common future. Turkey must become more European, and Europe must finally make itself fit and present itself as one. The Turks want to face the challenge. The excitement at the Bosporus over the beginning of the voyage to Europe might be exaggerated and suffer some blows when confronted with inevitable obstructions and tough reforms. However, it shows creativity, power, boldness and an atmosphere of awakening, which Europeans lack. The EU ignores its part of the great task, although the challenges for Europe are bigger than those Turkey faces. The European Union must slim down its decision-making and institutions, reform its finances, cut and re-divert its expenditures and make the contribution system fairer. Actions must follow the noble words of democracy and transparency. The European Constitution, which remains in a coma waiting to be revived, would be a good basis for the necessary changes. However, it would only solve a part of the problem. As long as France does not give up agricultural subsidies, Britain insists on its rebate and Germany does not want to do without regional promotion, the EU will not be able to accept Turkey as a member. These three governments approved the beginning of the talks with Turkey, but they fear the consequences for their own people."
Rolf-Dieter Krause commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (10/4): "Whether Turkey will enter the EU is more than uncertain. It will definitely not join the EU if it remains like it is today. The upcoming process, which will give Turkey the opportunity to become a stable factor in a pretty unstable region, is decisive. It would guarantee its western integration and promote the country's reforms. Europeans who would like to do without that must be ready to pay a high price. We should really get sober. Who says Turkey will desire to join our club in 15 or 20 years? Our economic growth is smaller, and our budgets and structure are faltering. It is pretty daring that we still want to integrate new members. The EU lacks the capacity to integrate new members. But why do we discuss this by using Turkey as an example? Is it because Turkey is a large and non-Christian country? Any small Christian government in the EU can nowadays break its promise and realize its political neuroses in Brussels without risking anything."
"Who Is Stubborn"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/4): "Knowing that Washington welcomes its EU entry bid, Turkey played the American card in the last minute. Secretary of State Rice was to make those Europeans who are apparently stubborn and unreasonable see sense. Turkey's disappointment over the delayed negotiations is understandable, given that it complied with many EU demands. Erdogan's involvement of the U.S. is a strategy that combines going in a huff and exerting pressure. This time around, many Europeans who want to start the negotiations talks will have welcomed the involvement of U.S., whose motives are reasonable. However, the American card was probably not decisive in this long game, which is played dishonestly and humiliatingly. The essential question is whether Turkey's position as well as its social and cultural constitution makes it a European country that has its place in the EU. This question has not yet been answered, and most European voters have great doubts about it. The referenda in the Netherlands and in France demonstrated what could happen if the European elite ignores the limits of the voters: a fiasco. Do we really have to risk that a European electorate might reject Turkey's entry after years of negotiations? Austria must accept the criticism that it was late in expressing its objections, but Vienna's policy as such was right. The stubbornness and creative poverty of those who see the only fortune in Turkey's full membership is surprising. Many forms of Turkey's connection to the EU are thinkable. Focusing on an EU entry only bears the risk that an overstretched EU will falter."
Christiane Schlötzer noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/4): "With this populist change shortly before the celebration parties in Turkey were supposed start, Vienna damaged the credibility of the EU. Which EU member must stick to former decisions in the future? Which future EU candidate wants to face such uncertain proceedings? When Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan asked U.S. Secretary of State Rice to mediate in Luxembourg, the EU foreign ministers must have painfully realized the embarrassing nature of their blockade and their powerlessness. Turkey's only comfort is that the punctual opening of negotiations did not fail due Ankara. This gave Turkey and Europe the opportunity to repair the failure in the last second. If the EU had given up the goal to tie Turkey closer to Europe, it would have missed an historic opportunity to secure the stability and resources in a politically important region. Also Turkey would have damaged itself if it would given up the great goal of European integration, because Ataturk's country has significantly benefited from the recent moves towards the EU."
Roger Köppel observed in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/4): "Austria's chancellor said what numerous Europeans do not dare to express: Turkey's full EU membership is nonsense as long as basic questions about the European Union's purpose, expansion and finances are not clarified. The best case would be if Europe reinvented itself. The heavily subsidized tanker could materialize its liberal values and reduce its political ambitions in favor of the economic goals. The political misconstrued giant dwarf could turn into a slim structured zone of freedom and free trade, an overall entity of a privileged partnership. That would be reasonable, and also the Turks could live with it."
"Marry In Hast, Repent At Leisure"
Albrecht Meier argued in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (10/4): "Those who still want to believe in a politically powerful EU cannot simultaneously call for Turkey's entry. It is true that Turkey would have deserved that Europe had started the discussion earlier and not just the moment they were supposed to get engaged. However, it would be hypocritical to start the negotiations with the partners in Ankara while hoping secretly that Turkey will lose its desire to marry. Both sides do not deserve this, neither the European people nor the people in Turkey."
Josef Knecht editorialized in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/4): "Austria's fight against the beginning of the Turkey talks was bizarre for two reasons. First, Vienna started the dispute a few hours before the beginning of the EU membership negotiations with the Muslim country--following a phase of 40 years and a clear approval of the EU state leaders. Secondly, comparing the EU mandate for negotiations to Vienna's position, there was no difference. The EU text said the negotiations could fail and that Turkey should then be closely tied to the EU structures. One could also call this a privileged partnership. Austria's second desire that the EU must be ready for the expansion was also already part of the EU documents approved by the state leaders. However, also the reaction of the other side was bizarre. Turkish PM Erdogan had called U.S. Secretary of State Rice for help. That speaks volumes of how Erdogan sees his European opponents: as weak and easily able to be influenced. The hastiness of Schüssel's government was unreasonable. The negotiations will last 15 years. That is enough time to let the talks falter, if that is desired."
"Europe's Slow Answer"
Jörg Reckmann wrote in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/4): "The European parliament had clearly stated that there would be no expansion without a constitution. The EU seems to be further away from this than ever before. That is the bitter lesson of the crisis. The European turmoil also has a German element, which is not positive. It was chancellor candidate Merkel who advocated the privileged partnership as a negotiation goal.... If that was Merkel's test piece, we do not want to see her master piece."
Paul Georg Hefty editorialized on the front page of center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/30): "A country wants to shape Europe instead of allowing itself to be driven by an automatic course of events. Like any other member, Austria has the right to resist compromises, which it considers bad.... With respect to the question that is now important, the hypocrisy in the EU continues, even though the French and the Dutch government know that their peoples do not want to follow the path laid down by their governments.... In this situation the position of the Austrian chancellor is more brazen. Chancellor Schüssel is willing to assume responsibility, even though he is now binding his country and the EU. For the opening of the Brussels framework of talks for a special relationship with Ankara, which he is now demanding, says nothing but Turkey having an intimate relationship with the EU after the end of the talks, if not as a member, then as a partner for life. A non-relationship that could be the result of the Brussels negotiating concept…would then no longer be possible.... Even a disappointed Turkey would, out of consideration for the United States, not turn away from Europe to such a degree that it would not accept a kind of privileged partnership."
"Turkey Deserves Honesty"
Jacques Schuster observed in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/30): "We must praise the Austrians.... It is now to up to the foreign ministers to find a solution. They must quickly find a compromise by Monday, since the accession talks with Turkey are to begin then. We can only hope that Vienna's position meets with support from Denmark, the other central European states and may be even from France, for, Austria sets the right priorities. It prefers the immediate European neighbors [as accession candidates]. It demands a clear language towards non-European candidates and wants to offer Turkey alternatives in case of a failure of the talks. This is wise, since it would limit possible damage. But the majority of European governments make the same mistake that they made towards the Turks in the 60s. They promised something to the one side by putting off the other.... Austria does not want to prevent Turkey's accession in principle, even though the Vienna government remains skeptical. But Austria only wants one thing: The bridge builders from Brussels should turn into architects of drawbridges."
Centrist Mannheimer Morgen noted (9/30): "Especially when it comes to democratic reforms, Turkey is marking time. In addition, there are the untenable Turkish positions in the Cyprus question and the Armenian conflict. Now it is becoming clear that the Islamic reforms have lost their euphoria. Premier Erdogan is increasingly servicing the nationalist camp and is running the risk of putting himself by the sidelines. The tough course, which Erdogan pursues, should strengthen the Turkey opponents in Europe. A Turkey that is fighting for its interests in such a way right now, would not be an easy partner as a full member. On the contrary, and in this respect the opponents are right: the Turks would then fight with the French and the Germans for the political leadership in the EU. Would that really be good?"
"A Breath Of Fresh Air Into EU-Tukey Partnership"
Center-right Leipziger Volkszeitung had this to say (9/30): "In the Brussels diplomacy, Austria enjoyed the doubtful reputation of being a champion in announcing activities. But the strong words from Vienna did not match with strong deeds in Brussels. In the controversy over the upcoming accession talks with Turkey, the Austrians, however, are not willing to give in just like that. With a persistence that has surprised and distraught many in Brussels, Chancellor Schüssel is now demanding an agreement on an alternative scenario if Turkey does not achieve full membership. Obviously he wants to breathe fresh air into a privileged partnership."
Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf opined (9/30): "The Turks have previously been at the gates of Vienna, centuries ago. Now they have advanced as far as Brussels--a matter which the Viennese find appalling. Yet the Viennese syndrome must not be allowed to wreck the start of negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU. [Austrian Federal Chancellor] Wolfgang Schuessel, campaigning in place of Angela Merkel [leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU)] for the alternative of a "privileged partnership," is mistaken if he believes that Turkey can still be fobbed off cheaply. For in practice Turkey has long enjoyed a special relationship with the European Union. The 40 years the Turks have spent in the EU waiting-room have taught them persistence. Anything short of the promised negotiations, with concrete prospects of accession, would strip the EU of its credibility, thereby alienating Turkey once and for all. From the strategic point of view, this is something that Europe cannot afford. But Turkey is probably not Schuessel's primary concern. There are other reasons for his footdragging resistance. Austria wishes the EU to fling open the door to Croatia once more. This may be understandable from the point of view of Vienna, whose neighbor's political and economic interests are closely enmeshed with its own. Yet linking the cases of Turkey and Croatia is a highly dubious policy. Croatia could start entry negotiations immediately, if the country were to cease to block the extradition of war criminals to the Hague tribunal. Schuessel's claim that the EU is operating double standards is bizarre. The EU presented each country with a clear catalog of requirements. These have largely been met by Turkey--but not by Croatia. Anyone familiar with the EU's working processes is aware of the solution: the foreign ministers will refer to the upcoming report on Croatia by UN Chief Prosecutor Del Ponte. If this proves to be positive, then Vienna will give way."
"The New EU"
Centrist Heilbronner Stimme opined (9/30): "Many observers and politicians are painting the state and the future of the EU in dark colors. First, the much-lauded constitution did not get a majority in France and the Netherlands, and now Austria is blocking the long-planned accession talks with Turkey. Are these all ignorants and traitors of European ideas? No, by no means. Especially the spoiled sports of the naïve Brussels 'all ends-well policy' could turn out to be the better Europeans in the end, since they are forcing the EU to be realistic. The first fruit can already be harvested. The EU Commission is slowing down its regulation mania by withdrawing 68 planned laws. The insight that a deepening and an enlargement cannot happen at the same time and to the same degree is growing. The conditions as such, and not wishes, are now formulated to Turkey."
"Austrian Opposition To Accession Talks"
Jan Mezger commented on ARD-TV's late evening newscast Tagesthemen (9/29): "A promising start looks different; we could be threatened with such turbulence for ten years now. When it comes to Turkey and Europe, [the EU] has continued in a hypocritical way to muddle on for more than 40 years now. Hardly any of our politicians tells us that a political integration with Turkey as a full member is impossible, and that it does not fit historically, culturally, and geographically to this part of Europe. The Turkey skeptics hope that the country on the Bosporus is tripping itself up, be it with the refusal to recognize Cyprus or its refusal to recognize the genocide of Armenians.... I can fully understand the Turkish government which is faced with new obstacles overnight, when it is now threatening to boycott the talks. If [the EU] had clearly said in advance how skeptical Europe's citizens are towards Turkey's full membership, then it would have understood this honesty much earlier."
"Turkey-EU Accession Talks"
Kurt Gerhardt opined on regional radio station Westdeutscher Rundfunk of Cologne (9/29): "We do not witness such a botch-up every day. It is incredible under which circumstances the accession talks will begin. For weeks, we have witnessed this fuss that all sides involved are unable to agree on how to react to the Turkish statement on Ankara's refusal to recognize Cyprus. We are about to begin accession talks with Turkey and the mandate that is necessary for such talks is not yet ready. The majority of EU states are willing to sit at the negotiating table with Turkey that is unwilling to recognize one of them. This is a piece from a madhouse. All this is what the EU gets for decades of dishonesty. Again and again [the EU] promised something different than it really thought. It tried to fool itself but also the Turks. Most of the arguments for an accession are not sound. It begins with the statement that Turkey was promised the accession 42 year ago. But this is not true, but most of the arguments against an accession are not true either. The EU tried to dodge the truth, and this is that the majority of people do not want Turkey joining the EU. The problem is that the politicians who feel the same did not say so.... Collective cowardice is the reason, a cowardice behind which all EU countries hid. And now we have the fuss. If the things we are experiencing now is a precursor of the course of the accession talks, then we can still expect certain things to come."
Wolfgang Günter Lerch opined in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/23): "Turkey wants to recognize Cyprus only if the Cyprus problem has been resolved. But since this will not happen until the opening of official accession talks between the EU and Turkey on October 3, the European Commission has tried to build a bridge with a compromise formula for the government in Ankara, saying that Turkey should recognize Cyprus in the course of the accession talks. Brussels is pinning its hopes on the inspiring force of accession talks. But Foreign Minister Gül protested this approach, arguing that the government in Nicosia wants to establish the EU only as a new forum for the resolution of the Cyprus problem. But as a matter of fact, the row over the recognition will continue to hover over the talks like a Damocles sword. But if Ankara's will to join the EU is so great, then it must dare to leap in cooperation with the European partners, even though not all questions have been settled. Hic Cyprus, hic salta!"
ITALY: "Turkey In The EU: The Shadow Of The 'X' Factor"
Massimo Introvigne’s editorial in pro-government, center-right daily Il Giornale (10/5): "The media as well as Turkish government circles immediately understood that Angela Merkel’s hand was behind the Austrian Chancellor’s attempt to derail the train that should take Turkey into Europe, even before the process begins. However, in Ankara, others think that the Pope is also maneuvering in that direction. In fact, when he was Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger expressed his negative opinion on Turkey’s entry in Europe.... The Vatican unofficially denied any kind of intervention and it is likely true that a denial was issued.... The Pope has no intention of being pulled into the internal Turkish disputes.... And more than that, he neither wants to strengthen the theory of a 'clash of civilization' between West and Islam, nor would he like to weaken anyone’s position, like Erdogan, who, in the wake of the ongoing civil war within Islam, represents a true moderate wing."
"Bet On The Future"
Marcello Foa took this view in pro-government, center-right daily Il Giornale (10/4): "The agreement signed yesterday in Luxembourg does not mean that Turkey will automatically become an EU member. On the contrary, the conditions placed by the 25 EU members are unusually harsh, because they do not guarantee a final outcome and because they sanction the possibility of interrupting negotiations at any given moment. Moreover: in the event--and it is not a given--that Ankara is admitted in 2015 or 2020, the voters of those countries will have the final word.... One small ‘no’...will be enough for the whole process to fail. The response of France and Holland regarding the EU Constitution demonstrates this.... We can understand the reasons that induce EU leaders to negotiate with Turkey.... September 11, 2001 did not only disrupt the West, but also weakened moderate and progressive Islamic regimes, like the Turkish one.... If we look at things from the viewpoint of Premier Erdogan, or of someone who evaluates problems from a geostrategic standpoint, like the president of the United States, we realize that EU adhesion represents a decisive battle against al-Qaida: if Ankara succeeds and the adhesion leads to improved living conditions in the country, it will demonstrate that democracy and the free market represent the only real solutions to poverty and marginalization. If the Turkish government loses, the fundamentalists will be able to demonstrate that the West thinks only about itself and that the only response can be found in a return to a backward-looking Islam."
"The Sword Of Damocles Of The Referenda"
EU analyst Andrea Bonanni wrote on the front page of left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/4): "In the end, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice resolved the umpteenth European crisis by unblocking the opening of negotiations for Turkey’s accession with a couple of phone calls to Vienna and Ankara.... It is evident that Ankara’s entry into the EU radically modifies the nature, objectives and end state of the European structure. It corresponds perfectly to the American strategy that would like to turn the EU into a regional sub-system for political stability and propagation of democracy and the free market. But the entry of a large country, that is still far from sharing the political culture and economic development of Europe, will probably preclude the consolidation of a strong EU identity that would make it an autonomous actor on the international scene.... European governments, now structurally incapable of openly measuring themselves by their public opinions and intrinsically frightened by the possibility of opening political conflict with the American ally and with their neighbor Turkey, have once again preferred the road of ambiguity and compromise."
"Battle Over Details"
Franco Venturini analyzed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/4): “The Turks weren’t stopped at the entrance of Vienna, as happened to the Ottomans more than three centuries ago, but the agreement reached yesterday to begin negotiations between Europeans and aspirants of Ankara has revived some old ghosts from the past. Coup-de-teatre, tactical moves, conflicting rigid positions between the Group-25 representatives quarreling in Luxembourg and those on hold in Ankara, did prompt an inevitable comparison between today’s situation and a completely different atmosphere at the time of the EU enlargement to former Communist countries.... The fact remains, that the first step towards Turkey was made. And it also remains, however, that lacking profound reform of the European Union and restructuring which would later permit a durable enlargement, the first step of Luxembourg would run the risk of not making the list of the most important, historic moments of reconciliation.”
"Europe Pins Down Turkey But Opens Its Doors"
Alessandro Caprettini stated in pro-government, center-right daily Il Giornale (10/4): “A whirl of meetings and telephone calls, intense activity even on the nuances of the translations, white and black smoke signals alternating between the Meuse and the Bosporus. In the end the green light to dialogue with Turkey arrived, both from Luxembourg and from Ankara, which all of a sudden became quarrelsome and ready to bark. But the impression remains that the double ‘yes’ remains for now merely a cosmetic exercise. The aim is to avoid the outbreak of a very delicate dispute and to prevent the creation of a new iron curtain between the Old Continent and the South-East passage towards Islam. It took much, much patience to achieve a result which, in reality, is only a point of departure.”
"Turkey, The Mirror Of Europe"
Barbara Spinelli held in centrist, influential La Stampa (10/3): "The real issue is how not to ‘lose’ Europe and its reason to be at a time when we are debating the two possibilities it faces: to maintain the promise of membership it made to Turkey many decades ago, or to postpone the negotiations and thus freeze the issue. In both cases, the European Union is at a crossroads: if it fails to say clearly what it wants to be and to become, if it fails to emerge from the malaise in which it is stuck, if it fails to realize that, in order to count, it needs to turn into a real Union…Europe will not be able to speak authoritatively, neither to its own public opinion nor, as a result, to its Turkish interlocutor.... To negotiate and to put conditions on Turkey means reminding it of the real differences between our history and its history, and not of the false differences that are used as an excuse."
"Turkey? The Problem Is Europe"
Franco Venturini stated in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/30): "Europe...is experiencing the most serious crisis of its existence and behind the inevitable scrap of community rhetoric, it does not know what ambitions it wants to pursue. The only clear element is the juncture that lies before the EU: on one side is an organizational re-establishment supported by an integral approach...on the other a progressive decline, with the renouncement of the Founding Fathers’ dreams. If a heavy weight like Turkey were to lean on such a Europe, the only result would be to capsize the boat that Turkey wants to board."
"EU, New Austrian Veto On Ankara, London Pushing to Resolve a Stalemate"
European analyst Alessandro Caprettini analyzed in pro-government, center-right Il Giornale (9/30): "And now the ‘torment’ of Turkey is turning into a thriller or even a double thriller. First question: will British Foreign Minister Jack Straw be able to convince Austria to give up its veto on the negotiations by giving in to its [Austrian] clause of ‘privileged partnership’ that Vienna stubbornly wants to include in the document, in the case of the failure to adhere? Second, but no less important: will Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul be in Luxemburg on Monday morning, or will the beginning of talks be postponed, with some embarrassment?... The reality in many European countries is that, as the zero hour approaches the more one realizes that perhaps the enthusiasm of the possible accession of Turkey overestimated the raw analysis of the state of affairs in the country"
RUSSIA: "Europe Lets In Turkey"
Anya Vvedenskaya and Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/5): "In a move that is as sensational as it is historic, the EU has decided to start negotiations on Turkish membership. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was quite active in supporting the Turks. From London's perspective, with the EU in crisis, Turkish accession will restore the Europeans' confidence in their ability to reach compromise and agreement. Washington, its shadow lurking behind London's back, firmly stands by Ankara. With the Americans' strategic ally, Turkey, barred from the EU, many important issues, including EU-NATO interaction, remain unresolved. Put together, Straw's arguments, (Turkish Foreign Minister) Gul's pressure, and America's advice worked. After 30 hours of debates, the sides agreed to hold talks on Turkey's full membership. By letting Turkey in, Europe hopes to stave off a fearsome 'clash of civilizations.'"
"Becoming One With Europe"
Reformist Izvestiya editorialized (10/5): "It seemed unthinkable only recently.... The coming years will see a grandiose experiment in adapting Turkey to rigid EU standards. Accepting Europe as an idea, not as a territory, means that Russia, too, may start thinking of acceding to the EU. If we do, we should realize that our problem is not the EU's stern requirements, but our attitude. Even today much of our economic legislation and judicial system, including human rights guarantees--on paper--conform with Europe's, according to many experts. We must flesh them out. To do so, we need to inculcate in the minds of all citizens from top down that, in a state, individual rights come first, and that delegating part of national sovereignty to supranational bodies of government is better than upholding it. That done, integration into European institutions will help us build our lives in accordance with European standards. Otherwise, Russia will never become a full-blooded European country, whether inside the EU and the Council of Europe or outside."
"Turkey Accepts EU's Terms"
Kirill Zubkov stated in reformist Gazeta (10/4): "European politicians nearly killed a project to bring two civilizations together. Intrigues inside the EU might have come to nothing in the face of the Turks' growing opposition to joining the EU as a minor member."
"A Slow Start"
Oleg Komotskiy alleged in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (10/3): "Though the talks in Luxemburg are likely to get underway, most pundits expect no progress. With an impasse on Cyprus and Armenian genocide, there is practically no way Turkey can resolve these issues within the narrow framework of negotiations with the EU. The EU is having hard times too. People in many European countries have lost interest in continued integration, unsure of its consequences."
"The Turkish Gambit"
B. L’vov opined in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (10/1): "Bloated because of its enlargement in the east, the EU is getting loose and less manageable. Following the constitution fiasco, the EU has been in crisis, and sinking ever deeper. The decade of negotiations with Turkey is more like a decade of quarrels and scandals. This is the opinion in most EU countries. Indicatively, the Euro parliament, while giving lip service to the idea of talks in word, refuses to consider ratifying a customs union with Turkey.... A real danger is that the Turks may not come for the talks, meaning they may withdraw from the 1996 customs treaty with the EU. They once did, scaring Chancellor Schroeder…. The point is that the 1996 treaty is bad for the Turks. While Turkey opened its market to the EU, it got no equal treatment in the European market. Were Ankara to modify its stand, the EU would lose tens of billions of Euros annually. So far, this argument has worked well, especially with the French."
"Turkey Starts Talks On EU Membership"
Yuriy Kovalenko argued in reformist Izvestiya (10/1): "To save face, the EU and Ankara will most probably work out a compromise in order to start negotiations, if only formally. Under the circumstances, the EU is not ready for enlargement. But after the failed European constitution referenda, Paris, Brussels, Vienna and Berlin are afraid confrontation with Turkey might provoke a new crisis.... In a way, Russia has been affected, too. Many politicians in the EU believe that while considering applications, the EU should take into account the ‘geographical principle.’ That is, countries (Russia and Turkey) with the majority of their territory in Asia, by definition, cannot claim full membership. If Ankara makes it into the EU, opponents of Russian membership will be hard put to defend their position."
AUSTRIA: "The EU Has A Lot Of Homework to Do"
Foreign affairs writer Alexandra Foederl-Schmid maintained in liberal Der Standard (10/5): "In the night from Monday to Tuesday, the start of EU membership negotiations with Turkey and Croatia was finally decided on after a delay caused by Austria. Now the real work begins. After all, the question is whether the EU is prepared for a further enlargement round. At present, the answer is no.... In the last few months, the EU has not even managed to reach an agreement about the fiscal period 2007 to 2013. It does not take a prophet to predict that after a Turkish accession there will be even more fighting about money, especially on the part of the net contributors, to which group Austria belongs. The EU has a lot of homework still to do before the next enlargement round."
"The Stakes Were High--But The Game Is Won"
Editor Michael Fleischhacker judged in centrist Die Presse (10/4): "Being the only European head of government to express openly the unease of European citizens with regard to the EU's Turkey course and proposing a concrete alternative is to [Chancellor] Wolfgang Schuessel's credit. To move away from full membership as the only negotiation goal is an achievement which will increase his importance as president of the EU Council in the first half of 2006. The 'deal' that was finally agreed on is in Austria's favor: to advocate Croatia's interest and thus the EU perspective of the Southern European countries will strengthen Austria's role in the region and serve as perfect preparation for the Western Balkan initiative that Austria has in mind for its EU presidency.... To sum it up: the stakes were high and the game is probably won, at least in the medium term."
"Snarl, But No Bite"
Foreign editor Livia Klingl contended in mass-circulation Kurier (10/4): "Tactical maneuvering is common practice before important EU decisions.... In this regard, even advocates of a Turkish EU membership would have principally understood Wolfgang Schuessel's snarling. It reflects the will of a majority of EU citizens that have long since lost touch with Brussels technocrats. However, Schuessel's timing was baffling--as was his tactical move to go it alone. Schuessel's action will probably have once again reinforced the impression that Austria is an uncertain ally. Having unresolved issues of budget, constitution and general mood crisis in the EU--let alone the Turkey question--at this late date does not serve the interests of Austria's presidency."
"High Demands--Few Achievements"
Alexandra Foederl-Schmid remarked in liberal Der Standard (10/4): "Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's performance was not a good prelude to the EU presidency, which Austria will take over from Britain at the beginning of 2006.... Despite the meager result which the Austrian stance in the Turkish membership issue produced--simply more emphasis on the EU's capacity for enlargement as a precondition for Turkish accession--Vienna will try to sell the Luxembourg wrestling match as its own achievement.... The Austrian government will also try to present the impending start of membership negotiations with Croatia as its success, even if there was no official tradeoff in the negotiations about the Turkish membership issue. At least, however, Austria can take credit for its persistent engagement for Croatia."
Foreign affairs writer Michael Jungwirth noted in mass circulation provincial daily Kleine Zeitung (10/4): "The EU's change of course with regard to Croatia can certainly also be counted as a feather in Austria's cap--and this is not to downplay Zagreb's role in addressing the Gotovina problem. What Austria has achieved in the Turkish membership issue, however, is not worth mentioning. Not much is left of its initial grand intentions. Just as in the transit issue, Austria's Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has miscalculated. He assumed that Angela Merkel, an opponent of Turkish membership, would triumph in Germany and that the mood within the EU would change. This was not the case."
Foreign editor Martin Stricker commented in independent provincial Salzburger Nachrichten (10/4): "Behind the theater noises and the stage decoration, the spirits were dancing. Their hour always comes when the issues at stake are not clearly expressed. What exactly is the EU? Which direction is it going? What are its goals and methods for achieving them? Where are its limits? What is the role of individual nations? These are questions that have only been briefly touched upon by the 25 heads of state and government since the crash of the EU constitution last spring.... In the end, after days of urgent evocation of spirits--from resistance to the Turks in Vienna to crusader logic in Ankara--everything remained as it was. The negotiations will begin--as they will with Zagreb, whose interests the Austrian government advocated. A green light for Muslim Turkey only if negotiations will also begin for Catholic Croatia. Welcome to the 21st century!"
"Fair Trade With Turkey"
Foreign affairs writer Wolfgang Boehm questioned in centrist Die Presse (10/3): "Why does there seem to be no solution in the Turkish EU membership issue that satisfies everyone? Why is it not possible to offer Turkey guaranteed participation in the EU's domestic market and close cooperation in foreign policy matters, but no full membership as yet? The answer is probably that Ankara does not want to renounce the full membership it has been promised for years. It's all about power, interests and vanity. A step-by-step integration of Turkey could offer a solution to the present dilemma. It could take the shape of a probation period during which Turkey's participation in EU decisions would be controlled. There are also other possible options that, diplomatically worded, would minimize the risk of a Turkish EU ascension while allowing Ankara to maintain the vision of full membership. Finding a solution in the stalled negotiations demands a maximum of creativity."
"The Air Is Thick In The EU Bazaar"
Gerfried Sperl, Chief editor for liberal Der Standard went on to say (10/1): "Vienna has shifted the argument in the Turkish EU membership debate--making the open-ended nature of the negotiations the core point of the negotiation mandate. This is partly attributable to Austria's disappointment over Croatia's delayed membership ascension.... However, the chief argument is that, since Croatia is certainly on the whole no worse a membership candidate than Turkey, Brussels has to accept the charge that it is applying a double standard. The Austrian Chancellor rejects the idea of a quid pro quo. However, the odds are that if the EU Commission gives the green light for Zagreb, Schuessel will do the same for Ankara. The poker game would be successful and Schuessel, the rhetorically gifted tactician, would find reasons for such a change of heart."
"Going Through With It"
Andreas Schwarz held in mass-circulation Kurier (9/30): "On Monday, the EU membership negotiations with Turkey will begin. Despite the damage Europe has recently incurred--not the least because of its unchecked enlargement policy for which is was presented the bill in two disastrous constitutional referenda. That leaves Europe unruffled, even though it has neither defined its boundaries nor clarified the contradiction between enlargement and consolidation of the Union. However, the Turkey issue is a case where European politicians are fiercely determined to go through with it. There is no admission that the matter was a mistake from the beginning, and there is no going back.... Austria is bravely fighting the battle of alternatives for Turkish membership. That this comes just at a time of regional elections in Austria is a coincidence of course. Likewise Austria will reverse its position a few hours after the elections in Styria. And anyway, the battle has been all about the Croatian membership issue.... This is a way of generating sympathy for Europe."
"It's the Result That Counts"
Foreign affairs writer Josef Kirchengast opined in liberal Der Standard (9/29): "Of course, the Austrian government cannot openly admit that its delaying tactics with regard to EU membership negotiations with Ankara has anything to do with the desired start of such negotiations with Zagreb. Vienna will not be able to prevent the negotiations with Turkey anyway. However, the attempt to apply the brakes in the Turkey case has weakened the prejudices many EU member states have against Croatia. One look at the map shows it would be absurd to accept Romania and Bulgaria (which are no more ready for membership in many respects than is Croatia) while negotiating with Turkey and delaying Croatia.... If Austria's course helps correct this distorted situation and make clear to EU members the meaning of an integrated Croatia for the stabilization of the Balkans, this would have been a good result."
"Judge Them Differently"
Foreign affairs writer Alexandra Foederl-Schmid insisted in liberal Der Standard (9/29): "There are plenty of differences between Croatia and Turkey, and both countries are in different stages in their relations with the EU. Therefore, both countries should be treated differently.... However, Austria is the only country to refuse consent to the negotiation mandate with Turkey, arguing it wants an alternative to full membership. That this argument is used to press for starting negotiations with Zagreb at the same time as those with Ankara is not fair to Turkey. If Croatia fulfills the necessary preconditions, the way for membership negotiations is clear anyway. Also, it is not very professional not to tell the other EU member states openly what exactly it is Austria wants to achieve. Austria's behavior resembles that of dealers at a bazaar in Istanbul."
BELGIUM: "A Terrible Spectacle"
Deputy chief editor Bart Sturtewagen held in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (10/5): "The start of the accession talks between the EU and Turkey was a terrible spectacle.... As an example of mismanagement of a great project this was impressive. This story says a lot--if not everything--about the European construction’s deplorable condition today. Since the failed referendums on the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands nothing has worked properly anymore. The Barroso Commission does not show any dynamism. There is no indication whatsoever that someone has the beginning of a solution to the impasse into which Europe has moved itself. As a matter of fact, at the end there was only one reason why the negotiations with Turkey started: no one was willing to be responsible for the situation that would emerge if Europe closed the door: a situation in which the EU closes its doors to Islam and presents itself as a closed Christian club, a union that is not able to keep its word and that jeopardizes the stability of its oil supplies. These are all solid arguments, but none of these arguments is founded on a positive view on the construction of a strong Europe. The current vision is: this is where we are, we can’t turn back the clock. Those who don’t agree must shut up because it is too late."
"Umpteenth European Crisis"
Foreign editor Frank Schloemer pointed out in independent De Morgen (10/5): "The events in Luxembourg show that short-term thinking prevails and that panic emerges when the far future becomes the issue. Those who want to use the word 'historic' for the Monday events around Turkey are free to do so, but the really historic thing are the failures--one after the other--that Europe affords itself. Financial management is barely visible. The French and the Dutch vetoed the much-praised European Constitution. The euro-zone consists of unstable economies and the gap between the EU and the citizens is deeper than ever. Europe is drifting around without much orientation and talks over the heads of the people. Those individuals, however, are those who see that there are millions of unemployed people and that there is no improvement in the offing. They see that the problem in the Balkans is not really solved, that the EU is losing ground to the superpower on the other side of the Atlantic and that new economic tigers in the Far East are bracing themselves for action. The EU’s ambition should be genuine unity and the creation of a bloc that counts on the international scene. After the events in Vienna and Luxembourg we are farther away from that than ever before. That is the bitter lesson from this umpteenth European crisis."
Pascal Martin concluded in left-of-center Le Soir (10/4): "Comedy, psychodrama, and vaudeville: it was more a farce than politics yesterday in Luxembourg.... Europe has once again publicly displayed its internal divisions.... There was a winner and two losers yesterday in Luxembourg. The winner was Austria, which became the symbol of the resistance of public opinion that does not want Turkey within the EU.... As for the losers, they are, of course, the EU and Turkey, which became officially engaged in a climate of total distrust. For these two, the coming years will have the bitterness of unhealed domestic rows."
"A Chance For The EU"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy concluded in conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (10/4): “Enlarging the EU to Turkey will be different from any other enlargement, because of the size of Turkey, of the fact that its population is mostly Muslim, and because of its mostly Asian geographic position. Some are pointing out this reality to oppose Turkey’s entry into the EU. It is obviously a legitimate argument, but why wasn’t it used in 1963 when, by signing an association agreement, Europeans referred to a possible membership? It is clear that, in 2005, Turkey does not meet the EU’s democratic criteria. It is also clear that the recognition of Cyprus, of the Armenian genocide, a solution to the Kurdish problem, and the respect of human rights will be unavoidable pre-conditions to EU membership ten or fifteen years from now. But doesn’t one clearly realize what the EU can gain from integrating Turkey, on the economic, geopolitical, and cultural field? Does one envision the wonderful model of cohabitation between Christians and Muslims that the EU could represent? The real challenge for the EU of granting membership to Turkey lies in the EU’s capacity to continue to function with 28, 29, or 30 members."
"The EU Crisis"
Foreign editor Frank Schloemer emphasized in independent De Morgen (10/4): “No matter what the outcome for Turkey is, it was preceded by a pathetic spectacle that illustrates how deep the crisis is in Europe. The EU is falling into one crisis after the other. For years the politicians have been saying that Europe must be brought closer to the citizens, but nothing has changed. Once again the Turkish dossier shows how deeply divided the old continent is. The recent depressing events made things only worse. The political parties in the European Parliament almost literally collided with each other over Turkey and a small EU country like Austria demonstrated how easy it is to lead the decision making process into a deadlock.... The enlargement wave--with ten new members--has not been digested yet and it has not made the EU more flexible. The widely praised European Constitution is in the waste basket and the referendums in France and the Netherlands showed how much doubt the citizens have about Europe.”
CZECH REPUBLIC: "The Three Faces of Turkey"
Pavel Bratinka stated in the mainstream MF Dnes (10/6): "Everybody who knows something more about Turkey than what the media care to present knows that there exist three different Turkeys. One Turkey, which accepted with all sincerity the separation of the religious realm from politics and the economy. This Turkey could be embraced by the EU straight away.... The other Turkey, is a nationalistic country that sees things through the simple optic of--all that enhances the wealth, power and security of the country is good and moral. This Turkey could also be acceptable to the EU without any major difficulties.... However, there is also the third Turkey--the Islamistic Turkey that rejects the notions of tolerance proposed by Ataturk. It is not too long ago when the current Turkish PM Erdogan boasted that Istanbul's minarets are "our missiles".... This Turkey must not become an EU member. The EU was established with the intention to curb all forms of fanaticism that could lead to wars. The last thing it needs is disputes inside the Union gaining a religious dimension."
"European Knots On Turkish Thread"
Adam Cerny noted in leading business-oriented Hospodarske noviny (10/5): "The decision to begin EU accession talks with Turkey was not easy and all subsequent steps will be even more demanding.... The ability of the EU to "absorb" the new member, aside from accession criteria like democracy or functioning market economy, is growing in strength.... The promise to hold a referendum on the entry of Turkey to the EU concerns only France [at the moment], but the problem which is coming into view behind this has a lot to do with this year's debate on the EU constitutional treaty. Politicians have a shared responsibility for their decisions and their ability or inability to defend the decision made and convince their voters about it."
"Two Birds In The Bush"
Jiri Hanak observed in the center-left daily Pravo (10/5): "The decision about the initiation of accession talks with Turkey that was made yesterday in Luxemburg is not a good one. EU citizens so far have not even been able to digest the last EU extension of the ten new members and here they are faced with a much greater challenge. The leaders who did not bother to find out what their people thought about the last extension also do not plan to ask in the case of Turkey. How surprised were they when people could finally voice their opinion over the EU constitution?! Turkey, as an EU member, will burden the whole EU both spiritually and economically. The only ones who can rejoice over the accession talks with Turkey are the opponents of further EU integration.... After Turkey’s EU entry, we can forget about any integration at all, worse still, we may be confronted with the impossibility of sustaining even basic functions inside the EU.... Professional wishful thinkers say that all this will be smoothed out by the success of this unprecedented experiment--a harmonious coexistence of two societies, a Christian and a Muslim one. What nice two fat birds in the bush; a bush that is, however, so far away that we can hardly see it; while the bird we have in our hand is still a weakling expecting complications in the near future."
"EU On The Turkish Border"
Adam Cerny observed in leading business-oriented Hospodarske noviny (10/4): "The dispute over Turkey’s possible EU membership is in reality a critical debate over where the EU borders should lie and whether the EU can cope with unlimited expansion. The immediate answer is "no," but if we were to judge the matter by the criteria for new EU members stipulated in Copenhagen the answer would be "yes".... Especially us, newcomers, should support the openness of the European project as we realize the value of motivation to push through reforms needed for EU membership that otherwise our countries would hardly have found the will to realize.... Opening doors for negotiations does not mean that Turkey will be able to pass through this door. The government in Ankara has managed to pass many, formerly unimaginable, reform steps. Nobody, however, can guarantee, that this reform movement will be continued for the next ten years. If it does, there would be no reason not to accept Turkey in the EU. Especially since we would hardly find a more influential ally among the Muslim countries."
"EU And Turkey"
Ivan Hoffman remarked in the Czech Radio 1– adiozurnal (10/4): "There is understandable nervousness on both the EU and Turkey side over the accession talks in Luxembourg. The EU will look for excuses to retract their commitment to accept Turkey in the EU; and Turkey will debate whether the EU membership is worth the endless concessions and soliciting.... The problem is that we cannot envision the future. There is no way to know whether Europe will accept multiculturalism and whether Turkey’s Muslims will get used to European liberalism. We do not know whether Turkey will become the EU Trojan horse in the Muslim world or the other way around. It is not clear if our security will be enhanced or weakened by accepting Turkey as our EU ally. How much easier this would be if we had a crystal ball through which we could see what the future has in store for us."
"Let Us Give Them A Chance"
Zbynek Petracek commented in the political weekly Respekt (10/3-9): "Despite all the pros and cons debated with regard to Turkey’s EU membership accession process, one thing is clear--Turkey needs to be given its chance and so does Europe.... If we had refused to start the negotiating process it would have only served the interests of the local radicals. Turkey could have replaced its European ambitions with Asian or Muslim ones and we would have had to face an Islamistic hotbed at our doorstep. Why disqualify Turkey right at the beginning? Why push aside a government that relies on Islamic tradition about as much as the German CDU relies on Christian tradition?... If we accepted Turkey "as it is" it would mean the dilution of European values, principles and rules.... On the other hand, we cannot overlook how much Turkey has accomplished with regard to the possibility of gaining EU membership. Is the bottle half empty or half full? The trend is more in favor of it being half full. So why not give Ankara a fair chance and leave the "screening" to be done during the accession process."
"Talks With Turkey On Non-Membership"
David Gresak put forth in mainstream MF Dnes (10/3): "The EU has made one of the biggest mistakes in its short history by opening the accession talks with Turkey on its full membership in the club. There are issues…from human rights through recognition of Cyprus, admission of the genocide of the Armenians in 1915…on which the proud Turkish nation will not be able to agree with the 25 EU member states. The EU should have offered Turkey a privileged partnership which would be reachable in a reasonable time and beneficial to both sides."
"Will Turkey and Islam Enrich the EU?"
Petr Uhl editorialized in the center-left daily Pravo (10/3): "Let's hope that we will have some ten years [the usual time of EU accession talks] to suppress bad emotions (about Turks) on our side and that Ankara will use this time to deepen the rule of law and democracy, but also admit to the genocide against Armenians in 1915.... But the basis will be our mutual recognition of Islam and Christianity. Credibility of Islam in Europe, but also Christianity in the Muslim world is a remedy against any fundamentalism and also terrorism."
"Turkey And EU: Hypocrisy Wins"
Jan Zahradil, member of the European Parliament for the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS), emphasized in leading business-oriented Hospodarske noviny (10/3): "There is a series of good reasons for starting accession talks with Turkey. Let's highlight at least one: the prospect of Turkey's membership will become an accelerator of future direction of the EU. The organization will either continue in its current direction, i.e. building the reclusive fortress of Europe definitely defining itself against the U.S., China, India or its "close neighborhood"…or the EU paradigm will be changed towards a flexible, open structure capable of reacting to challenges of the 21st century."
Pavel Masa remarked in the center-right Lidove noviny (9/30): "The squabbles taking place before the negotiations with Turkey over their EU membership will most probably end once more in a questionable compromise. The degree of awkwardness and pettiness that is associated with these negotiations demonstrates how the EU is incapable of being a full-fledged player in world politics. The 'best' example of this is Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel who conditions the strategic decision of Turkey’s EU accession on the initiation of talks with Croatia arguing the danger of applying double standards.... The German and French politicians also bring hardly acceptable arguments--for the EU or for the Turks.... All this is done in the name of being able to claim: 'It was not us but them who did not accept the friendly hand.' Clear statements would create a chance to build long-term relations with Turkey. 'Cunning' diplomacy will only result in relations periodically eroded by corrosive arrogance."
DENMARK: "Turkish Rejection Will Not Solve European Problems"
Left-wing Information commented (9/28): "Braking Turkish membership of the EU will not solve one problem that is facing Europe at the present time and could risk pushing developments in the opposite direction. The budget needs to be reformed and this must happen regardless of whether Turkey becomes a member in 10 or 20 years. The same applies with respect to becoming better at creating jobs and increasing the movement of labor."
HUNGARY: "Preparation For The Turkish Negotiations"
Brussels correspondent Gyorgy Foris stated in business-political daily Vilaggazdasag (10/6): "First of all, it does not hurt to get used to the fact that Turkey is going to be a candidate different from the previous ones.... We have to reckon with an unpleasant, cross-grained and demanding partner that, because of its size, strategic weight and not to mention the support of its distinguished patrons, possesses overwhelming self-assurance and self-confidence.... It is no news that the most ardent advocate of the Turkish EU membership is not a European country, but the current absolute power of the world, the United States.... It is not hard to imagine the effect of a joint intervention of a frustrating Turkish government and the U.S. government lobbying [for Turkey’s] interests either openly or behind the scenes."
Columnist Laszlo Szocs stated in top-circulation, left-of-center Nepszabadsag (10/4): “Because of the necessity of consensual decision making, the value of Austria, whose real weight would be 1:32 in the council of member states, skyrocketed in a second. Together with all of its fears: the terrifying vision of the EU accession of a huge, poor and Muslim country and the dislike of immigrants. According to demographic forecasts, the country being weighed in Luxembourg could become the most populous and the poorest country of the EU for decades. “We cannot cope with such a behemoth!”--warned the Austrians. And it is also a big question whether the EU is able to cope with its own gigantic size.”
"Wrestling With Ankara"
Columnist Istvan Lovas declared in right-wing conservative daily Magyar Nemzet (10/4): “In addition to the British and a great part of the political elite of the Union, Ankara’s rejection would be an enormous failure for the top player of the global strategic “game,” Washington. Maybe not only because American politics is so seriously worried about the intensification of the Christian-Muslim clash of civilizations as a result of the Turks being offended (if they were they would withdraw their troops from Iraq), but also because lately everything seems to be going wrong for Washington: its invasion of Iraq is becoming a more and more costly fiasco, from which Iran, its number one enemy in the Middle East, and the terrorist supply business benefit. Not to mention that lately Osama bin Laden seems to even be controlling the catastrophic weather.”
"Pro’s And Con’s About Turkey"
Foreign affairs editor Ferenc Kepecs stated in pro-government, left-wing daily Nepszava (10/4): “The arguments and counter-arguments are based on the same question: Is this country on the edge of our continent and with an almost entirely Muslim population, European?... If only one in a hundred thousand of [the Turkish Muslim population] becomes a terrorist, as a citizen of the Union he or she will have free access to Europe.... It is certain that Turkey is poor, but this does not only indicate a need for subsidies but also represents a huge and growing market. Also, it is true that the Turkish authorities do not treat their citizens according to a European standard; moreover, [the authorities] seriously violate human rights. But how can we help the suffering population, how can we change their situation? Definitely not by shutting the door on them.”
Columnist Istvan Lovas stated in right-wing conservative daily Magyar Nemzet (10/3): "The leaders of the Union [EU] want to move the behemoth of an organization into a direction of expansion that does not in the least meet the will of its citizens.... It is hard to answer why the quarrelsome, bad-tempered Union, already in deep crisis because of the French and Dutch rejection of the draft of the EU constitution, would again like to be more distanced from the hearts and minds of the people.... In the meantime, the 'masses' become either more apathetic or more suspicious: see, they want to make a decision behind our backs again! Many of the Union’s citizens ask: why would the British presidency, which thinks that the postponement of the negotiations with Turkey would be a 'gigantic treason,' be right, when a Muslim country, with 95 percent of its territory in Asia, wants to become a full member of a Union, the official name of which is 'European.'"
IRELAND: "An Irishman’s Diary"
Kevin Myers noted in the center-left Irish Times (10/6): "The European Parliament, perhaps twisting in the wind of doubt over other issues, last week demanded that Turkey acknowledge the 1915 Armenian massacres as "genocide." Why should Turkey do that? Turkey did not exist as a state when the massacres occurred. The Turkish people, as a people, are innocent of the bloodshed.... So it is morally and historically absurd to identify one part of that human catastrophe as demanding modern political culpability, but no other. So let non-political, academic fingers sift through the melancholy ashes of history, looking for bones. Modern politics is not about disinterring the past but transmuting its legacy into the future through the prism of the present.... What the EU needs now is a little more skeptical honesty, a lot more of the rigors of a Turkish marketplace, and a great deal less of the flabby and sclerotic Franco-German welfare dependency. In other words, it is time to re-invent the dear old Common Market, with controlled population movements the key."
"Multicultural Europe Shouldn’t Be Hypocritical About Turkey"
Ronan Mullin commented in left-of-center Irish Examiner (10/5): "Despite the attitude of their governments, only 35% of EU citizens want to let Turkey in. Many are worried about the effect of incorporating a huge, predominantly poor, and mainly Muslim country into the EU. The issue of human rights is of particular concern. Even as the Turks were reforming their law last year to meet the human rights requirements of the EU in relation to policing, the status of women, etc., the government tried to bring in a law that would criminalize adultery for women. They eventually backed down. Last week, the European Parliament called for Turkey to acknowledge what is a taboo subject in the country, the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to 1923, the first genocide of the 20th century. But a group of scholars who gathered in Istanbul a week ago to discuss it were pelted with eggs and tomatoes by protesters. A Turkish novelist is to go on trial in December for talking about it. Sounds medieval. Yet in the light of the Dutch euthanasia experience, it seems hypocritical to point the finger at Turkey and declare them unfit for our European society.... It would be a poor reflection on Europe's Christian roots if we didn't have confidence in the capacity of our values and traditions to prevail on our continent."
"EU Sets Out On Hard Road Toward Turkish Entry"
Paul Taylor stated in center-right, populist Irish Independent (10/5): "The EU began the long, hard slog of entry negotiations yesterday with Turkey, the biggest and most challenging candidate it has ever tried to absorb. Financial markets celebrated the start of talks, with Turkish shares jumping 3.86pc to close at a record high and the lira and bonds also rallying. This reflected soaring investor confidence in a country that now has its feet firmly on the ladder to eventual membership of the wealthy western bloc. The market euphoria contrasted with a more sour political mood on both sides after the handshakes.... Austria gloated that it had made life harder for Turkey by forcing the EU to spell out that Europe's capacity to absorb such a vast, poor, populous country financially was a "condition of membership." Senior German conservative politician Edmund Stoiber said he expected talks with the overwhelmingly Muslim country to end in a status short of full membership."
"Turkey's Road To EU Entry"
The center-left Irish Times heralded (10/4): "The news last night that Turkey has accepted the European Union's proposals to begin accession talks is dramatic. Coming after a tormented and gruelling 24 hours of negotiations on a complex set of issues, the simple fact that the talks are to go ahead is the main point to be grasped. It represents a notable success for the current UK presidency. Turkey has now to adopt the EU's huge body of law and values. That is a monumental task.... In its search for EU entry, Turkey has already made massive, if sudden, strides towards liberal democratic norms in its domestic politics and constitutional ethos, alongside its extensive economic and administrative adaptation over hundreds of years.... This is in addition to the major economic benefits to be found in Turkey's home market and demographic buoyancy as well as in the security benefits arising from its window on the Balkans and the Middle East. Hostility towards Turkish accession, whether it is based on conviction, prejudice or ignorance, can shift--but only if political leaders are prepared to argue the case for Turkish accession with the same conviction they showed yesterday. That will be the real test of the next decade."
"EU Deal Enables Start Of Turkey's Accession Talks"
Jamie Smyth detailed in the center-left Irish Times (10/4): "The EU narrowly averted a crisis last night when foreign ministers finally agreed a historic deal to enable the start of accession negotiations with Turkey.... Despite expressing concern over a paragraph in the framework stipulating that Turkey would not block EU members from joining international organizations, Ankara signed off on the framework for the talks. Turkish ministers were fearful this could force them into having to agree to allow Cyprus, which it does not recognize, into NATO. But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan to assure him that the proposed EU negotiating framework would not impinge on NATO."
"EU Move To Allow Talks On Turkish Accession Stalled"
Jamie Smith assailed in the center-left Irish Times (10/3): "The EU moved closer to a new crisis yesterday as emergency talks designed to enable accession talks with Turkey to begin later today remained deadlocked late last night.... Austria favors agreeing to a looser partnership with Turkey rather than offering the predominantly Muslim country full EU membership. Vienna is seeking to delete a clause in the negotiating framework which says "the shared objective of the negotiations is accession" and replace it with wording making clear Turkey would be offered a lesser partnership if the EU felt unable to absorb it. Ankara has made clear it would walk away rather than accept anything other than the talks offering full membership if it meets the entry criteria laid down by the EU. Its negotiating delegation has refused to fly to Luxembourg until the final text is agreed, effectively placing a deadline of noon on an agreement on the text of the framework, according to one EU official last night."
"Deep Unease In EU Over Further Enlargement"
Jamie Smith added in the center-left Irish Times (10/3): "Public opinion in France and Germany is also strongly against Turkey joining the EU, with opposition recorded at 70 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. Key politicians in Germany and Austria have already tapped into the public's antipathy toward offering full membership of the EU to Turkey. Angela Merkel, a frontrunner to become Germany's next chancellor, wants a "privileged partnership" with Turkey rather than full EU membership. Nicholas Sarkozy, a leading contender to replace Jacques Chirac as the next French president in 2007, has a similar policy."
"EU Talks Ready To Begin, But Is Turkey Ready For The EU?"
Nicolas Birch critically advised in the center-left Irish Times (10/3): "Turkey's pro-Europeans have long looked forward to EU membership talks as the consummation of a 40-year courtship. But Turks are still unclear whether they'll be getting a marriage contract, or a jilting.... A mixed bag of religious conservatives, liberals and nationalists, Turkey's ruling party was a symbol of the new consensus. However, increasingly overt European hostility to Turkey's accession bid in recent months has only deepened Turks' innate suspicions of European intentions."
"Civilizations Clash As The EU Talks Turkey"
Conor Sweeney, European Luxembourg editor, foresaw in center-right populist Irish Independent (10/3): "A clash of civilizations not seen since the Crusades was being evoked last night as EU Ministers tried to broker a deal on possible Turkish membership of the bloc. Following September 11 and the spate of subsequent terrorist attacks, the tensions between the West and the Arab world have intensified dramatically.... Critics also point out that since Turkey has such poor relations with most Arab countries, partially because of its own strong relations with Israel, that it can't possibly influence them in a positive way. Therefore, what can be gained from letting it join? Other, more whispered concerns simply focus on the whether Europe wants a large, poor Muslim country as a member."
"Impasse In Brussels Over Talks With Turkey"
Honor Mahony wrote in the center-left Irish Times (9/30): "The EU was yesterday unable to agree the terms for opening membership talks with Turkey.... The deadlock means that the EU's position remains uncertain three days before formal membership negotiations are due to open.... Facing down the 24 other member-states which are prepared to open talks on Monday, Vienna reiterated its demand that it be made clear that full membership of the EU is not necessarily the ultimate goal of the talks. Instead, it was indicated that a loose partnership with Turkey is an alternative outcome to the negotiations, which are expected to last at least 10 years.... A staunch supporter of Croatia opening talks with the EU, Austrian diplomats have said repeatedly that they would find it very difficult to support talks starting with Turkey if Zagreb was left out in the cold."
"Turkey’s EU Bid Close To Collapse As Key Talks Near"
Conor Sweeney alleged in center-right, populist Irish Independent (9/30): "Turkey's bid for EU membership faces collapse at the final moment, with an emergency meeting of foreign ministers now set to try and hammer out a deal this weekend.... And yesterday, the threat that the EU might not be ready to open the entry talks drew a sharp response from Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul who said that Turkey will not send its delegation to Luxembourg to open talks before officials see the document detailing the EU's negotiating positions."
KOSOVO: "Turkey At The Gate Of Or Into EU"
Augustin Palokaj highlighted in leading independent, top circulation Koha Ditore (10/3): "The start of negotiations with Turkey will mark a new phase of EU’s development but no one can imagine how the process of negotiations is going to be carried out and what their epilogue is going to be. "Today’s Turkey cannot enter today’s EU," many EU diplomats say but also admit that in the case of Turkey and its relation with the EU there are many paradoxes: starting with the fact that Turkey does not recognize Cyprus--a member of the Union Turkey wants to access, then the still continuing persecution of writers in Turkey just because they express their free thought, and also the fact that Turkey has not recognized as a genocide the massive killing of Armenians after the First World War, something that the European Parliament is demanding from Turkey. On the other side, the EU has not always been sincere with Turkey, it is not helping the northern part of Cyprus (where Cypriot Turks live) and some EU countries are even annoyed by the fact that Turkey follows a pro-American policy. However it be, the decision of EU ministers for starting or not starting the negotiations with Turkey is going to have consequences for the EU. An eventual tying of Turkey’s hands would divide the EU countries once again.... Disappointment at Europe could also push voters towards Islamic groupings in Turkey.... Otherwise, if Turkey enters the EU, one may raise the question of whether Brussels is going to have a reason to refuse Ukraine, Georgia, Moldavia and other countries which are much more European than Turkey as far as geography and culture (as some think) are concerned.... In addition to that, EU is also approaching the moment of truth when it comes to its relations with Turkey and here the EU should demonstrate sincerity. Otherwise, it turns out that Europeans have promised to ‘Muslim’ Turkey (who has over 95% of its territory in Asia) a European perspective with the belief that that would never happen."
NORWAY: "Turkey Just Barely Stumbles On"
Independent VG assailed (10/4): "If the negotiations [between Turkey and the EU] lead to Turkish membership, we are witnessing an historic event. It would make the EU an important bridge builder between Europe and the Muslim world. A rupture in yesterday’s negotiations would have been a serious blow both for the EU and the possibility for a more active bridge-building capacity in the Middle East.... It is far from certain that the membership negotiations between the EU and Turkey will be successful. Turkey is a large and significant country, but extensive poverty will mean large disbursements of EU funds. That Turkey has also been a major trouble spot on the border between Europe and Asia results in great skepticism in several EU countries. The road toward a Turkish EU membership will in any case be long and difficult."
"A Safe Distance From The Cliff"
Independent Dagbladet stated (10/4): "When the [EU-Turkey] negotiations seemed deadlocked yesterday, foreign minister Jack Straw commented that the EU was approaching the edge of the cliff. The Union could take the next step in the wrong direction and fall into the abyss, or it could move in the direction of a bright future. Straw finally managed to lead the union in the latter direction. How bright the future will be remains to be seen, but we agree with the head of the Norwegian Foreign Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, who said yesterday that the negotiations between the EU and Turkey can become a vital turning point in Europe’s relationship with its Middle Eastern neighbors. Turkey’s PM Recep Tyyip Erdogan commented that the EU’s choice was now between [becoming] a future superpower with global influence or a Christian club contributing to an increase in the danger of a future clash of civilizations. The breakthrough yesterday means that the EU managed to avoid sinking even deeper into the crisis that has marked the union this year. The EU has, throughout its history, moved from crisis to crisis, but it has always succeeded in maintaining unity. It looks like it may turn out that way this time too."
POLAND: "Compromising Stalemate Or A Compromise"
Andrzej Jonas wrote in military weekly Polska Zbrojna (10/6): "[Turkey], the Muslim country, has not sunk in the chaos of fanaticism, it is a modern, secular state which has been seeking to strengthen this process by entering the European Union for forty years. Do we need such a partner to develop values we consider to be a foundation of our modern existence? With no doubt, the answer is yes. Are we ready to strengthen Turkey on its difficult march along this path? Yes, but...these 'buts' come from many of the EU 'old' members. Only in Poland, Slovenia and Hungary, are most of the citizens in favor of admitting Turkey into the EU.... Negotiation acrobatics--the specialty of the company called the [European] Union--has triumphed again. As a result, we saw a compromise instead of a compromising stalemate.... In the mirror of the Turkish dilemma, the Union saw the reflection of its selfish face once again. But it also proved it has the ability not to ditch chances, an ability vital to realize great visions."
"Bitterness And Hope"
Dominika Pszczolkowska wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/4): "The Turks’ approach to their membership in the EU is becoming more and more mature. Many Turks, not only the intellectuals, see the membership as a chance to fundamentally reform the country--not just an opportunity to become richer or have the possibility of a legal job abroad.... One of the fundamental transformations now underway is a change in viewing relations between the state and citizens. Until now it was the state with its expanded apparatus that determined the fate of a Turkish citizen, who in turn was to serve the country above all. We must shape our country from an institution that issues orders into one that serves, Turks say."
ROMANIA: "Turkey At The EU Gates"
Bedros Horasangian claimed in the independent centrist Ziua (10/5): "It is, in fact, a decisive moment in European history such that all options, either for or against, have their explanations and justifications--not only economic, social, cultural or religious, but first and foremost, historic and political ones.... It is clear that Europe will not be a 'Christian club'.... Europe would be stronger with Turkey in it.... Only good cooperation within the EU...can generate stability, progress and prosperity for everybody."
"A Historical Moment For Turkey"
Christian Mititelu went on to say in the independent mass-circulation daily Evenimentul Zilei (10/5): "With a twitch of its heart, the EU half-opened the door for Turkey.... Resistance to reform provides an argument against Turkey’s accession to the EU. Those who wish for a consolidation of Europe or who want a more 'political' Europe believe that Turkey would dilute the union’s identity, especially after the recent and yet undigested expansion.... This time, the Turks have not been stopped at Vienna’s gates. They are living a historical moment, but it’s still a long way to accession."
"Turkey Has To Conquer The Europeans' Hearts"
Irinel Mica praised in the financial daily Curentul (10/5): "After knocking at the door of the European club for 40 years now, the Muslim state has taken yet another important step.... Great Britain was probably relieved, because launching a discussion with Ankara was one of the priorities of the EU presidency; on the other hand though, dissensions between the member states on this issue and Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge Cyprus for the time being, don’t put the start of this under good auspices."
SPAIN: "Last Minute Agreement"
Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (10/4): "In the end, nothing changed from what had been predicted. The negotiations with Turkey...do not have a time line, that is, the negotiations can go on indefinitely. Also, the start of negotiations doesn’t mean that they will end successfully.... With the advantage of perspective, it seems that Turkey is taking the blame that isn't its to take, although neither is it a secret that its request is, from the cultural, social, and migratory point of view, the most controversial since the foundation of the Common Market. Ankara is paying for the consequences of the enlargement...that is now considered, from some circles, to have been rushed.... The serious difficulties that the European Constitutional text is going through...does not help legitimate Turkish aims either. If many observers consider the EU with 25 members uncontrollable...it’s obvious that the integration of a country with nearly 70 million inhabitants...represents a huge challenge of enormous complexity. But...not accepting Turkey would be a monumental mistake."
"Europe Against Its Citizens"
Conservative ABC commented (10/4): "What happened in Luxembourg goes much further than the specific meaning of the agreement reached that...links the Union with Turkey in a definitive way. The arguments on the need to accommodate this great country with a Muslim majority in the geostrategic environment it shares with Europe may be discussed time and again, but it is a matter of fact that we all know well that the idea of (Turkey) becoming a full member of the EU has the support of less than 35% of the whole of the European population.... Europe is above all an idea, and this idea mainly rests on the support of the citizens. The leaders of the EU should have learned something from the failed Constitutional Treaty, which is that is that they cannot continue making decisions without taking into account the feeling of their societies anymore, as they are the ones who have to accept (those decisions)."
"Turkey Obtains A Half-Way Yes"
Independent El Mundo wrote (10/4): "Regardless of other complications, the main handicap for the entrance of Turkey in the EU is not its legislation, nor its culture, nor religion, but its huge population and (lower) economic level."
Left-of-center El País opined (10/4): "Although the European point of view has caused a dynamics of change, Turkey should go much further in its internal reform and in democratization regarding human rights. In the process, it will also have to recognize Cyprus after unwillingly accepting yesterday the right of this country to join NATO. If it was not due to the strategic importance of what is at stake, the EU would not have opened the negotiations on integration with a state that does not fully recognize one of its members. Turkey's reluctance to accept that the EU's absorption capacity is limited, also caused tensions. It is useless to ignore this limitation. Even the hibernating European constitution would be insufficient to give room to Turkey. The end of this adventure is not guaranteed. But if what is starting now ends badly, it will be worse for all."
"Passing Off the Problem"
Left-of-center El País wrote (10/2): "After the French and Dutch 'noes' to the European Constitution, it is impossible to ignore that the thought of Turkish admission (into the EU) is rejected by those countries' public opinion, as well as those in Germany and Austria. But neither should the Europeans project on Turkey's petition their own internal problems of lack of cohesion, of doubts over their identity, and of adapting to the phenomenon of immigration. Turkey is today taking the blame of the Union's problems. Deep down, the Turkish question is forcing the EU into a debate that was postponed for a long time, over its goals and its geographic limits; in other words, over its own definition of itself."
TURKEY: "We Cannot Digest Either"
Sami Kohen opined in the mass appeal centrist Milliyet (10/4): "We are over the most tense 36 hours. Of course, both Turkey and Europe have gone through two very exciting days. From the U.S. to the Arab world, the officials of many other countries followed these developments with great curiosity. Everyone was shocked that the position of Austria, a rather small country, shook the EU so profoundly. Although the ostensible issue in Luxembourg was Turkey’s membership, the real debate concerned the obvious weakness in the structure of the EU. After Austria adopted its anti-Turkish position, some commentators described Austria as 'the sick man of Europe,' a label previously reserved for the Ottoman Empire. It is clear that if the EU doesn’t put itself in order soon, a crisis will become inevitable. Developments over the last 36 hours have had a negative effect on Turkey’s desire for EU membership. Now it is up to the EU to take some measures that will improve Turkey-EU relations. The word 'digestion,' which the Austrians were so insistent on including in the text of the framework document, has been repeated too often in recent days. It is a remote possibility that the EU will have problems in 'digesting' Turkey after a minimum 10-year negotiation process. But for Turkey, 'digesting' this word as a condition for EU membership was not easy at all."
"Now, The Negotiation Process Becomes Important"
Selcuk Gultasli wrote in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (10/4): "Once again, the EU has made a decision on Turkey in a crisis atmosphere and at a late hour. Once again, the U.S. had to intervene to convince the EU. In the end, the EU agreed to keep the commitment that it gave on December 17. We cannot ignore Austria’s success on the Croatia issue and its insistence on a 'privileged partnership.' Although the EU did not go along with 'privileged partnership' language for Turkey as Austria had insisted, few changes were made in the framework document. Austria was also successful in securing the start of the negotiations with Croatia. Since it was not possible that Austria could resist the other 24 members of the EU on its own, it is correct to say that some other EU members were giving implicit support to the Austrian position. First among these countries is France. After long hours of discussion, if the 'privileged partnership' language had been included in the final document, the EU would have been viewed as an institution not to be trusted. But despite the crisis, the negotiations with the EU have been launched. Now the important thing is how the talks will continue to play out. Turkey, Europe and the rest of the world will benefit from a successful outcome."
"The Journey Begins"
Ismet Berkan advised in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (10/4): "Let us all forget the last 36 hours of arguments and crisis. Let us even forget the struggle that has lasted so many years. These things are no longer important. Now Turkey is sitting at the negotiation table for full membership in the European Union. All of that struggle was waged with a single goal--to enter the door of Europe. Now we have entered. But believe me, the rest of the trip will be even more difficult. We will face many more crises. Each new crisis will be a test of endurance for Turkey. Turkey now begins its long and critical journey."
"EU Needs Turkey"
Cuneyt Ulsever added in mass-appeal Hurriyet (10/4): "The EU is in need of Turkey if it wants to be a...great union in 21st century, to make its aging population be supported by a young labor power and to narrow the area of influence of the 'Islamic terror,' which threatens its entity most in the 21st century!"
"Most Beautiful Day"
Mehmet Ali Birand commented in mass-appeal, sensational Posta (10/4): "Today is the most beautiful day of my life, because Turkey has got on the EU train. After getting on this train, no candidate country got off in a station in the middle. All of them continued their way until the last station. Turkey too will go until the last station [of full membership]."
"One More Bend Passed"
Taha Akyol opined in mass-appeal, centrist Milliyet (10/4): "We have passed one more bend. Strengthening of the extra economic dynamism and democracy, which the starting of the negotiations will bring Turkey, will put before humanity the most influential recipe against the 'war of civilizations'."
"Walk To The West"
Hasan Cemal noted in mass-appeal, centrist Milliyet (10/4): "Turkey is continuing its historical walk towards the West. Be sure that 3 October is a real turning point on this important walk that aims at a democratic state of law and human rights. This is a journey with no return. The train will sometimes slow down, sometimes stop and sometimes speed up. During the membership negotiations, there will be ups and downs, small and big crises. It will be an exciting journey for Turkey."
"Middle Way Found"
Ismet Berkan judged in liberal-intellectual Radikal (10/4): "At the end of the day a middle way has been found and Turkey has officially begun the negotiations. This means we have stepped in the [EU's] threshold. Until today the door was half open and one of our feet was inside; now we are inside with our whole body. The target after now is to sit on a chair in the sitting room of the house that will suit us."
"EU Chooses The Lose-Lose Theory"
Murat Yetkin commented in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (10/3): "Actually, the European countries will be deciding their own future with today’s decision on the framework document for Turkey. PM Erdogan has said there is no guarantee that the EU will become a global power if Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, but that there is such a possibility. If EU leaders cannot reach a compromise on the framework document by noon today, the result will be a loss for both Turkey and the EU. The new rules of international relations theory don’t support policies based on absolute winners or losers. Instead, the theory suggests that a 'win-win' outcome is the most desireable. If Turkey’s membership is rejected, the EU will have contributed the 'lose-lose' scenario to political theory. But I really wonder who could benefit from such a contribution?"
"Everyone Has A Problem Digesting This"
Ergun Babahan wrote in the mass appeal Sabah (10/3): "At a time when some circles are trying to bring people of different beliefs and different cultures against one another, it became clear late last night that Europe has a problem 'digesting' a Muslim-majority country. In fact, when we look at history we see that this problem is not a new one. No matter how tolerant the Ottomans were toward other religions, Christian Europe remained just as rigid toward Islam. There is no question that the EU is a civilization project for us. But we shouldn’t forget that Turkey didn’t come into existence with the EU. If we cannot sit at the negotiating table, this won’t be the end of the world. An EU that cannot digest other cultures will never become a world power or a power center. Turkey has fulfilled all of its responsibilities in the EU process. It has stood behind its commitments. If the EU fails to stand behind its word today, the historic responsibility will rest on their shoulders. Despite everything, we want to maintain our optimism and think that a last-minute agreement can be reached, because the entire region, and especially Turkey, deserve a better life."
Gazi Ercel opined in the mass appeal Sabah (10/3): "Turkey has continued its struggle for many years for membership in the EU. It is obvious that we are preparing for a forced marriage. Of course, Turkey has other alternatives--Muslim countries in the south, Russia, or the U.S.-Israel partnership are always possible. But none of these alternatives would ensure the high standards of living that Turkey could attain as part of the EU. The EU remains the best choice, because it can provide quality of life standards to 90 million Turks by the year 2025. That is why we have been pushing ourselves so hard. There have been some countries who have supported us in this struggle. One of them is the United States. The U.S. has supported Turkey since the beginning of the 1990s. More recently, the U.S. has been continuing its efforts on behalf of Turkey’s EU accession through the UK. There is no doubt that problems will occur in the future. But Turkey really has no other choice but to walk on the EU path with calm and determined steps."
"Maybe This Is Best For Everyone"
Murat Yetkin commented in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (9/30): "Foreign Minister Gul’s statement yesterday gave a clear indication of Turkey’s position on the EU talks. Prior to the EU membership negotiations, Turkey faces many problems. Gul could not go into detail on these problems, but there is a ‘big risk’ that many of the conditions are unacceptable for Turkey. It was good for Gul to release this statement yesterday, because some EU countries had been dismissing press reports that Turkey might walk away from the table. I would like to draw attention to a potential trap that Turkey should be aware of. Austria is insisting on a ‘privileged partnership’ clause in the framework document. Other countries have promised Turkey that such language would not be acceptable. But a de facto ‘privileged partnership’ could be presented to Turkey in this document in other ways. The ‘permanent limitations’ mentioned in the final document on December 17, 2004 was essentially a ‘privileged partnership’ in other words. In the past, EU policy has led to confusion and a need for last-minute solutions. For this reason, Turkey should remain calm, and not send its delegation to Luxembourg before EU leaders reach an acceptable compromise on the framework document. Otherwise, Turkey could face grave consequences."
"This Is Not Binding Either, But"
Sami Kohen commented in the mass appeal centrist Milliyet (9/29): "Just as we said about the EU counter-declaration, we can say that yesterday's decision by the European Parliament is not legally binding on Turkey. But the EU Commission and the EU Council of Ministers will be affected by the Parliament’s decision. So even though the decision isn’t binding, we would still be wise to consider it seriously. Among yesterday’s decisions there are both pleasing and disturbing elements. For example, the call to end the isolation of TRNC is a positive development. Likewise, the rejection of the ‘privileged partnership’ thesis is something that Turkey is pleased with. The negative decisions center around the Armenian and Cyprus issues. We need to study carefully the reasons why Turkey is facing such a hard time in international platforms, even though these platforms may not have any legal effect in Turkey’s relations with the EU.”
"The EU’s Trouble Maker"
Sami Kohen wrote in the mass appeal centrist Milliyet (9/23): "The tactical games played by the Greek Cypriots during the COREPER talks are only the beginning. Once the EU starts negotiations with Turkey on October 3, we are sure to see more tricks from the Papadopoulos government. Following the COREPER talks, EU circles in Brussels have started grumbling about the intransigence of the Greek Cypriots. But who is to blame in this? Those very same circles last year defended the inclusion of the Greek Cypriots in the EU, and did not want to accept that they were importing trouble into the Union.... It is certain that the accession of Greek Cyprus to the EU has made the settlement of Cyprus problem more difficult than ever before. The EU now must deal with Papadopoulos’ efforts to impose its own terms on the entire European Union.... Given the current situation, it looks as if Papadopoulos has chosen the EU as his battlefield. Unfortunately, it was the EU that allowed this to happen."
EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "EU And Turkey: A Messy Seduction"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald observed (10/05): "The last-minute deal to launch negotiations for mostly Muslim Turkey to join the (at least nominally) Christian European Union--the haggling will take at least a decade--illustrates an old truth. Multinational groupings are untidy.... Several points arise from this imbroglio. First, it would have been tragic if Europe had slammed its door on the Turks, and thereby on the Islamic world, at this terrorist-infested moment in history. Turkey's application should be seen more as an opportunity than a threat. Second, Monday night's decision marked the beginning, not the end, of what will be a long, difficult process of negotiation. Success is not guaranteed. Third, it's no bad thing that Europe's politicians and bureaucrats have been forced to take account of public opinion.... Finally, the Turks, pursuing EU membership, have already introduced substantial civil rights and economic reforms. They, like new members from the former Soviet bloc, will now have to make more. While skeptics doubt the EU's readiness to enforce undertakings by new members, its approach--offering economic gain in a growing common market in return for reform--seems more promising than the heavy-handed tactics of the U.S. in the Middle East."
THAILAND: "At Last, Turkey Gets Its Chance"
Independent, English language The Nation posited (10/5): “Although Turkey cleared the last hurdle to begin entry talks, Austria’s anti-Turkey position, secretly backed by other EU members, has left a bitter taste. Some fence-mending will have to be done to ensure that membership negotiations can proceed smoothly. It cannot be emphasized enough that the admission of Turkey into the EU would be good for Europe and Turkey. After all, Turkey is geographically located astride Europe and Asia. A democratic and stable Turkey, a nation that is also part of the Middle East, will be an asset to a Europe that is anxious to exert a positive influence and promote democratization in that volatile region.”
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
IRAN: "Ankara's Useless Efforts To Join EU 'Christian Club'"
The moderate pro-reform Iran Daily remarked (English-language Internet Version, 10/3): "Ankara continues to endure the humiliation and insults from Europe which refused to give the Islamic state a green light to join the Christian club. The majority of public opinion in the EU countries like France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria are against Muslim Turkey's entry in the grouping. In fact, Turkey was one of the main reasons for the rejection of the European Constitution by France and the Netherlands in June. The EU has set up a string of roadblocks on Turkey's complicated path towards Europe and among them are issues such as Cyprus, human rights, reforms, Armenian genocide and a special relationship. If Turkey had invested so much of its effort and focus in consolidating relations with the Muslim world instead of Europe, it would have paid dividends and it would have been accepted with dignity and respect. The negotiations will likely be open ended and without any guarantee that Ankara will ever become a member. Needless to say, the Europeans have lot of tricks under their sleeves to make the talks more difficult--human rights, reforms and religion--with Turkey whenever they feel like. The assertion by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that 'by joining the EU, Turkey will become a bridge between the EU and Muslim world,' sounds hollow. Having embraced the secular Kemalist ideology, Ankara has lost all its influence in the Islamic world. Secular Turks are gradually learning the hard way that the European grapes are sour."
CANADA: "The New Eastern Europe"
Editorialist Mario Roy wrote in the centrist La Presse (10/6): "There has been much talk of a forced wedding between Europe and Turkey. This is not exactly the case. First: it is an engagement rather than a wedding, since it will take at least a decade of preliminaries before the act is really consumed. Then: if...it becomes necessary to force things in the years to come, it will involve...elements that are varied and not very malleable.... To twist realities...including the Austrian resistance. It will...involve confronting: First, the economic structure of Turkey, still highly rural, still somewhat interventionist.... Second, the heavy cultural heritage of both parties.... Third, the level of understanding of the Turkish State in terms of what is involved in…direct access to Western prosperity.... Fourth, the degree of tolerance of Europeans towards change--which...has never been their main strength.... And let us add the uncertainties of the international situation which, in ten years, could evolve in many ways, not all compatible with a rapprochement.... From a distance, it seemed impossible...for Europe to refuse to consider the eventual entry of Turkey in the club of 25. Yet...it is a real redefining of the continent, of its geography as well as of its soul, that is involved.... And if certain fears are suspect…other fears are legitimate.... Since the French and the Dutch have voted in referendums against the project of an European constitution, it is clear that the population of the old continent feels pressured by its political class…and possibly terrified as well by the bureaucratic monster that the European Union has become.... Negotiations at high levels will take place over the next decade. But...it would be wise for the so-called enlightened elites of European nations--and of Turkey...to pay some attention to what goes on beneath them. The extension of Europe towards the East is, for the time being, a good idea. But making it a viable reality is another story."
"Democratic Turks Face EU Hurdle: Democracy"
Columnist Richard Gwyn commented in the liberal Toronto Star (9/30): "If Turkey is ever to join the European Union, it can only do so if it is a democracy just like all of the long-established democracies of Europe. Many of the changes that Turkey has imposed on itself in the past few years...have been to turn itself into a market economy. By far the most politically important, though, have been those to turn Turkey into a full democracy, with European-style protections for human rights. Its achievements in becoming more genuinely democratic are a key reason why...actual negotiations about its entry into the EU begin next Monday. Except that at this juncture, an ugly paradox arises: The greatest threat to a successful outcome of the Turkey-EU negotiations is democracy itself. To magnify the paradox, the threat that democracy poses exists as much across Europe as within Turkey itself. The democratic problem across Europe is simple and stark: Most Europeans don't want Turkey, with its 80 million Muslims, to join their club.... Europe's leaders are committed to Turkey's entry.... Their vision is farsighted and bold. A Turkey that is within the EU would give the lie to the 'clash of civilizations' proposition. Europe would have achieved in Turkey, successfully and peacefully, the kind of 'regime change' to market economics and democracy that the U.S. has attempted, violently and so far futilely, in Iraq. While Turkey isn't Arab, it would constitute a bridge between the West and the Middle East. Democracy, though, blocks the road ahead. Ways to get around it do exist. A long, long delay in setting the date for Turkey's actual entry. And after that, a further long delay before Turks can travel freely in Europe, and, much more important, can work anywhere there. In the end, though, either an overwhelmingly Islamic Turkey is in Europe, or it is left out because too many Muslims would make Europe too un-European. It's going to be a hard, and a close, democratic choice."
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