Europe a year after France’s rejection of Constitutional Treaty

Turkey needs to realize that it is in the interest of its future in Europe to fully implement the customs union protocol and recognize the Republic of Cyprus as soon as possible, according to France’s Minister for European Affairs Catherine Colonna in this interview with Kathimerini. Colonna also expressed her sorrow over the resumption of violence in southeastern Turkey and hoped that the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would soon present a plan of action for the Kurdish question. Referring to negotiations under way regarding the final status of Kosovo, Colonna noted that there were no fixed decisions on the part of the US or the European Union, and confirmed the basic principles for a realistic solution: no return to the prewar status, and neither division of the province nor unification with any other country («Greater Albania») or part of a country (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). A year after the political earthquake set in motion by the French referendum that rejected the European Constitution, the minister expressed support for immediate steps to strengthen the EU’s institutional functioning within the framework of existing treaties, and for closer European cooperation in foreign policy and security. At the same time, she recognized Europeans’ concerns regarding the negative effects of globalization and the need to strengthen the EU’s social dimension. Also noteworthy were Colonna’s ideas on EU-Russian energy cooperation – an issue that has come to the international forefront following the Russian-Ukrainian crisis early this year and the recent harsh attack by US Vice President Dick Cheney against Russian President Vladimir Putin.