NEWS

‘EU accession for countries that are European’

The recent enlargement has raised the issue of the Union’s eventual borders. How far can the Union be enlarged without losing its character? In my opinion, the Union should include the countries that are truly European, as long as they desire it, that is, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. In addition, the countries of Southeastern Europe, between Slovenia and Greece, the Western Balkans. The case of Turkey is more complicated, because there are questions of an historical and geographical nature. There is quite a lively debate on this issue in France. It is lively because it brings the Right into conflict with the Left but has also caused conflict within the political parties. President (Jacques) Chirac used to be in favor, now he is being more cautious but is still positive, while his party, under Alain Juppe, is against the idea. Within the Socialist Party, the leadership is in favor and the members against it. Various objections have been heard regarding Turkey’s membership. Some cite geography, others the demographic factor, or religion. Still more cite politics, saying Turkey will be the USA’s Trojan Horse in Europe. Which of these objections are legitimate, in your opinion? Discussing Turkey’s character is not to much purpose. As for being the USA’s Trojan Horse, this is rather a joke, since we already have other «horses» within Europe. What is important is to see that we are heading toward a political crisis in Europe over the issue of Turkey. We have promised Turkey that at some point it will join, but European public opinion is against it. When the time comes to ratify Turkey’s membership, a number of member states, and even the European Parliament, will reject it. I think it is dishonest to make promises to Turkey which we will not eventually be able to keep. That is why I believe we should move ahead in stages, offer Turkey a kind of «privileged agreement.» Such as that suggested by Alain Juppe and Angela Merkel? No, because they suggest it as a substitute for accession. I see it as a stage in the accession process. Let us have this privileged agreement and let accession negotiations come later. Then we shall see. The enlarged EU has inherited the Cyprus issue after the unfortunate result of the referenda. Until now, the Union has let all initiatives be taken by (UN Secretary-General) Kofi Annan, in actual fact, the US and Britain. What can it do in future? There is some disappointment, that is true, that the problem was not resolved. Of course, for the Greek Cypriots, accession was a happy event. I think we should not be disappointed because the problem with Cyprus has a long history, it is very complicated and cannot be resolved from one day to the next. We have to give the Greek Cypriots a warm welcome and then look for a solution – not to give up, not to react in a negative way. Now, if that happens with the help of Kofi Annan or the EU, I do not know. However, I tend to think it will be a combination of actions on both levels. The EU will take initiatives, but in coordination with Annan, who is not an instrument of the US or Britain.