As the politics of Europe is starting to come back from vacation, Turkey is one of the issues looming large on its agenda.
On the one hand there is the decision to start accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3rd. On the other, there are the different maneuvers by those not really wishing this to happen.
At the moment it seems as it is France that is intent on throwing sand in the machinery. President Chirac has certainly been in favour of opening up for Turkish membership of the European Union, but suddenly they seem to be having cold feet in Paris.
Prime Minister de Villepin has been making different noices, putting up new conditions relating to Cyprus that are both unfair and impossible for Turkey to meet. There are rumours of Paris trying to encourage Athens to take as hard a line as possible. And Athens has been lining up with Nicosia to produce a list of different new demands they want to insert into the process.
Phil Gordon of the Brookings Institution in Washington is a knowledgable observer of the European scene, and commented on these different maneuvers in the linked piece in the International Herald Tribune.
We’ll see what happens. A critical meeting of COREPER – the powerful Committee of Permanent Representatives – that was supposed to have been held in Brussels August 24 has now been postponed for a week to make room for more bilateral diplomacy.
The UK Presidency is firm to secure an opening of the accession talks on October 3rd. And the European Commission seems to be of the opinion that all the relevant criteria for that has now been met.
So we’ll see what happens.
In the meantime it is important to notice how the European urge continues to change Turkey, now clearly manifested in Prime Minister Erdogans ground-breaking visit to the Kurdish-dominated Southeastern provinces of the country.