Powerless union

The government in Athens is doing its best within European Union contours to safeguard the national interest in light of Turkey’s demands for a date to open EU talks, which will be decided at the bloc’s summit on December 17. The Greek demands over the content of the gathering’s final communique are by all accounts moderate and fully legitimate and, for that reason, have met no resistance from either the EU’s Dutch presidency or from the member states’ governments. However, should the EU give Ankara the green light without prior Turkish recognition of the competence of the Hague tribunal and the Law of the Sea treaty, this would seriously tarnish the bloc’s image. Worse, the Turkish government refuses to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which is a bona fide EU member state. It is not Turkey’s stance that is most striking, but rather the fact that Ankara’s peculiar positions have raised no eyebrows among EU politicians – some of whom are leaders of the most powerful European states – who appear willing to take Turkey’s requests into consideration. An EU candidate is thus stating openly that it is ignoring the status of a current member of the bloc, and that it has no intention of taking it into account in the future. The predicament is highly revealing of the EU’s serious political weakness and of Washington’s capacity to meddle in European affairs. Moreover, it foreshadows the problems that a potential Turkish membership will entail. For its part, the government in Ankara is caught up in an inflexible structure and deep-set internal contradictions, which make its path toward Europe even more difficult. However, the obstacles will be even higher for a politically powerless and increasingly fragmented EU.