OPINION

Editorial

The only way to avoid a stalemate on Turkey’s role in the embryonic EU force would be to postpone any final decision on launching the force, and this will be the most likely course of action taken by the 15 EU leaders during the current Laeken summit in Brussels. In lengthy negotiations with their Belgian counterparts (who are currently in charge of the EU’s rotating presidency), EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, Greece’s Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Secretary George Papandreou, came under intense pressure, but they made clear that if the document worked out by Britain, the USA and Ankara is approved, Greece would have to block the deal. At Laeken the 15 member states will declare the EU force operational, but this will clearly be an empty initiative so long as the issue of relations between the EU task force and third parties that are NATO members remains unresolved. The declaration, however, was the only way to keep the pretexts. As is known, the USA and Britain negotiated with Ankara its role in the force without EU authorization. In reality however, the major EU partners and the Belgian presidency had, behind the scenes, given the green light. The crucial question is, why did Greek diplomacy get paralyzed when it was an open secret that there had been backstage diplomatic maneuvers going on throughout the year? Despite the fact that the question was emphatically raised during the Parliament’s corresponding committee in Papandreou’s presence, the foreign minister gave no convincing answer. As Simitis himself said during the bargaining taking place on the summit’s fringe, there was an attempt to change the part of the document dealing with Turkey’s role to make it acceptable to Athens. Greece’s amendments, however, were rejected by the Belgian presidency while its counterproposals were, in turn, considered unacceptable to Simitis. The controversial document is at odds with Greece’s interests, but above all it undermines the EU’s hoped-for military presence and, by extension, Europe’s political and defensive emancipation. The extra-institutional negotiation itself, which resulted in the controversial document, is a clear violation of rules. But it is still a minor offense when compared to the severe downgrading of the importance and the role of the EU force, not only from outside but also from within. The survey showed 61 percent of people supporting the euro, which comes into circulation on January 1, 2002, in all the EU member states except Britain, Denmark and Sweden. It showed British opposition to the euro still strong at 58 percent.