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EU: need to restart talks with Turkey, wise men say 7 septembre 2009

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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ANSAmed (Italy)

7 September 2009, Brussels

An appeal was launched today in Brussels by the ‘wise men’ of the Independent Commission on Turkey to restart negotiations on EU membership with Ankara, which have been caught in a vicious circle for four years.

The wise men – former Finnish President and Nobel prizewinner for Peace Martti Ahtisaari; fomer EU Commissioner Emma Bonino, Italy, and Hans van den Broek, Holland; former French Premier Michel Rocard; former Spanish Foreign Minister Marcelino Oreja; Austria’s former Secretary General for Foreign Affairs Albert Roahn – presented their report ‘Turkey in Europe, breaking the vicious circle’, taking the opportunity to make observations on the recent turbulent years in relations between Ankara and the EU.

It all started with a ‘paradox’, said Rohan: ”Since negotiations started in 2005, the virtuous circle has turned into a vicious circle”. There are several reasons for this change of tack: the thorny issue of Cyprus, with the failed 2004 referendum over the reunification of the island following the ‘no’ vote by the Greek-Cypriots, the slowing-down of reforms by Ankara, and also ”the opposition to Turkey’s entry on the part of several European leaders and public opinion in many countries”. The positions of the leaders, said Rohan, ”are in stark contradiction to the unanimous decision to open adhesion negotiations taken by heads of State and government in December 2004.

This attitude has given Turkey the impression of not being wanted, of being treated differently from other candidates. But this approach is contrary to European interests: Turkey is a strategic country for energy routes, its presence in the Caucasus, its economic strength in Central Asia, and its negotiating weight in the Middle East”. The result is that now more than half of the 35 chapters of negotiations for adhesion are blocked, either because of Cyprus’ veto, as a response to the lack of full application of the Ankara Protocol on the part of Turkey, which regulates customs relations with the 27 countries, or because of the block placed informally by other chapters.

France has blocked five chapters, preferring to focus on partnership rather than integration. Austria, Germany and Holland also have political positions or public opinion overwhelmingly against Turkey’s inclusion in the EU. As for Italy, Bonino said that ”lately, for the first time, opposing positions have been taken very very firmly by the Northern League”. For this reason the former EU commissioner has called on Berlusconi to ”mediate” inside the Government so as to define a clear position ahead on the EU summit on December 9-10, during which the next steps for the adhesion talks will be defined. Emma Bonino said that the question ”of identity is an alibi for not saying anything, for not saying that they are Muslims, there are 80 million of them. I always feel like saying, what is the European identity? For me, Europe is a State of rights, division of power, democracy, open society; I do not believe that Europe is a religious project or a geographic project”. In this negative context, there are only a few signs of a change in tendency, for example the resumption of Turkish-Armenian dialogue.

But the ‘wise men’ insist that ”an effort is needed, we need good news from Turkey, on its reform plans, and a greater sense of responsibility on the part of the authorities and the European media”. ”Not just the credibility of Europe towards Turkey, but the international role of the EU are at stake”, concluded Ahtisaari.


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