OPINION

The bitter pill of recognition

After his inopportune statement that recognition of Cyprus by Turkey is not a precondition for setting a starting date for accession talks, Guenter Verheugen had to back off and tell the Turks clearly they had to extend the existing customs agreement to include Cyprus. The Turks had excepted Cyprus, which they still do not recognize and continue to veto at a series of international organizations. All this while they are struggling to start the accession process in December and while satisfaction of the Turkish demand presupposes a «yes» from Nicosia. Even if there was no right of veto, Turkey is obliged to take this step. The Turks probably will make a concession as they have no other choice. If they do not, Nicosia will probably say «no» and nobody will be able to criticize it for doing so. The Turkish regime wants Europe a la carte, with the rights without the obligations. Despite the progress they have made at a legislative level, in practice they continue to diverge greatly from the most flexible interpretation of the criteria set in Copenhagen for EU accession candidate countries. As the time of the decision approaches, many European politicians are having second thoughts, for instance the Dutch commissioner’s distaste for «the Islamification of Europe» and the more cautious statement by the Dutch prime minister. It seems Giscard D’Estaing’s statement that Turkey is a foreign body in Europe is shared by more than those who admit it publicly, even in pro-Turkish countries such as the Netherlands. For reasons of geopolitics and trade, our partners want Turkey in the European camp, but few want it to be a full member. By avoiding taking an open stand on the issue, they have boosted Turkey’s demand. Now it has come to the crunch. An outright refusal seems unlikely, due to the powerful pressure exerted by Washington.