EU Elections - The Turkish Question
The question of Turkey in the EU is one of the major stakes in the European elections and one of the few good reasons for voting in an election that leaves many Europeans indifferent. At the very least, this is an opportunity to voice a protest against Turkish membership, even if it doesn't result in a concrete rejection of Turkey's candidacy.
But in the past nobody has heeded the wishes of the voters when they ran counter to the EU's pre-fabricated plans. The most one can hope for is a strong showing from the sovereigntist parties, so that, at the very least, the EU will be in a defensive position, should it proceed with its nefarious plan.
Politicians are anxious to cover up their true intentions, and to appear resolutely, adamantly, anti-Turkey, as this article from Le Figaro illustrates. (The author is keen enough to point out that Nicolas Sarkozy may be attempting to wrest votes from his sovereigntist adversaries. This was his winning tactic in 2007 - he pretended to be a "conservative" long enough to win, then shamelessly [and with impunity] set up his own special version of a socialist State.)
"I have always been opposed to this membership and I still am," explained Nicolas Sarkozy on TF1-TV, returning to a position he had defended during the 2005 referendum and during his 2007 election campaign. "Debate in our ranks had been resolved long before the presidential elections. We are working with Turkey on creating a privileged partnership, even a unique one, nothing more", indicated campaign coordinator Michel Barnier to Le Figaro. A longtime supporter of accession, he explained that he has "evolved" on the issue since 2005. "The failure of the referendum was the failure of a plan for a Europe that had no limits or borders," he declared, and added that today he has "no regrets."
As a sign that the ranks are tightly closed, Jean-François Copé, majority leader in the National Assembly, announced that his party is "absolutely, in its majority, against the entry of Turkey into the Union." Strengthened by this declaration, the spokesman for UMP, Frédéric Lefebvre, is taking jabs at the parties to the right of UMP. His favorite target: Philippe de Villiers and his use of "double language". "He has made an electoral alliance under the Libertas banner, with an Irish billionaire known for his changeable position on Turkish accession," says Lefebvre. Villiers finds this declaration "comical", pointing to the "total contradiction, that has existed for two years, between the rhetoric and the acts of the UMP party."
And Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the Front National, denounced this "new lie of Nicolas Sarkozy" who, according to Le Pen, "allowed negotiations for accession to proceed once he was elected".
Earlier this month (May 2009) Nicolas Sarkozy exposed the following grandiose plan in a speech delivered in Nîmes:
"Europe must have borders. There are countries like Turkey that share a common destiny with Europe, that have a mission to construct a privileged relationship with Europe, to be associated as closely as possible with Europe, without becoming members of the European Union. For centuries, France has maintained friendly relations with Turkey, and it is in the name of this friendship that unites our two countries, in the name of the respect that we owe our friends, that I wish to tell Turkey the truth. We would be better off engaging now in negotiations with Turkey to create an economic space and a joint security program. We could also propose this great ambition to Russia, which should not be considered as an adversary of Europe but a partner. Thus, a great space of more than 800 million inhabitants, sharing the same security and the same prosperity, would be created."
Note: Sarkozy is certainly not suffering from agoraphobia.
An article from Observatoire de l'Europe provides a blow by blow account of Sarkozy's record on Turkey: the rhetoric and the acts. The author, Christophe Beaudouin, declares that the discrepancy "is no longer a large gap, it is schizophrenia". Due to its length, the article had to be condensed:
I. As candidate for the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy took one stand:
- November 30, 2006 - Candidate Sarkozy declared:
"I demand the suspension of all negotiations with Turkey for one simple reason: Turkey does not apply the protocol of Ankara, Turkey does not allow planes from Cyprus to land at its airports, or boats to come into its ports. Cyprus is one of the 25 States in the European Union. How can you discuss the future accession of a country that does not recognize the 25-member Europe, and who decides unilaterally that Europe is not 25 countries, but 24? It is not negotiable, it is not acceptable.
- January 14, 2007 - Candidate Sarkozy declared:
"Turkey is a country of Asia Minor (...) "To extend without limits is to run the risk of destroying the European political union. I do not accept this."
II. However, once elected President Sarkozy opened the doors of the European Union to Turkey:
- Ten chapters, (i.e. themes or topics) of negotiations have been opened since they began in October 2005: two were opened during Chirac's presidency and eight during that of Nicolas Sarkozy.
- The obligatory consultation of the French people through a referendum was abolished on July 21, 2008:
In March 2005, article 88-5 of the French Constitution provided this safeguard:
"Any bill authorizing the ratification of a treaty relative to the accession of a State to the European Union and to the European Communities is subject to referendum by the President of the French Republic".
On July 21, 2008, Nicolas Sarkozy had Parliament adopt a revision of this article that did away with the safeguard, but replaced it with an option giving Parliament the power to decide on any enlargement of the EU. Thus, he bypasses the people and turns the decision-making process over entirely to the Parliament.
III. Since the presidential elections, many have called for the door to Turkey's membership to remain open:
- Sarkozy said in August 2007:
"France will not oppose new chapters of negotiations (...) in the coming months and years, provided they are compatible with the two possible visions of any future relations: either accession, or as close a relationship as possible without going so far as accession."
- Bernard Kouchner said in December 2002 (five years before he was appointed foreign minister):
"Turkey is in Europe (...) Opponents of accession advance false pretexts. In reality, they want to maintain a Europe conceived as a Christian club, reserved for countries of Christian tradition. Just as membership of countries from the Eastern bloc was desirable because they were emerging from Communism, it is fitting to reach out to Turkey, the only Muslim country to have achieved separation of religion and State (...) Until there is a new order, the moderate Islamist party,victorious in the most recent Turkish elections is comparable to the Christian-Democrat parties established in a succession of European democracies.(...)"
- José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said in April 2008 to the Turkish Parliament:
"Today Turkey is an integral part of our agenda for enlarging the EU. Our common objective is that Turkey become a full-fledged member. Many people in the member States, as in Turkey, want to dwell on what does not work in our relations, on the short-term obstacles and the difficulties we may encounter. (...) To all those I say that our present and our future are intimately connected."
IV. The party of Nicolas Sarkozy (i.e.,the UMP party) has not ceased to endorse Turkish accession:
- Every year the majority party votes on a budget bill that includes "pre-accession" credits for Turkey. These credits continue to be increased. By the year 2013 France will have paid 96 million euro in pre-accession credits to Turkey.
- Since January 2005, in the European Parliament, the UMP party has been seated next to the Turkish AKP party - the party of "justice and development" of Islamist orientation, headed by the current prime minister Erdogan. The AKP is there as an observer of the PPE i.e., the coalition of center-right parties that includes UMP.
- In March 2004, in the EU Parliament, UMP voted for the Brok report that declared that if Cyprus were reunified, the EU would be immediately ready to "accept Turkish as an official language".
- In September 2006, the near totality of the UMP and Socialist Parties voted in the EU Parliament against an amendment introduced by Philippe de Villiers that "urged the European Council and the Turkish government, in view of the opposition to Turkish accession by the vast majority of European peoples, a fact regularly confirmed by polls, and the growing reservations of the Turkish people on this issue, to confine themselves to the objective of a privileged partnership."
The noisy declarations of the French president against the entry of Turkey into the EU will change nothing. All the decisions made in Paris, Brussels and Strasbourg over the past two years indicate that the red carpet of Turkish accession to the European Union has been rolled out.