OPINION

Grounds for prudence

The fact that Turkey has been under pressure to push through European-oriented structural reforms in recent weeks is no reason for euphoria among Greece’s political leadership, but rather cause for them to show prudence. A recent report on the relationship between Turkey and the EU, along with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s comments about religious minorities during his visit to the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate, do not constitute victories for Greek interests but rather demonstrate revelations of European jitters regarding Turkey’s possible accession to the bloc. The harsh stance adopted by the Turkey-EU Association Council is directly linked to the risk of a French vote against the European Constitution and may well have influenced the change of climate in France. One of the factors determining the French stance is that a vote against the constitution would rule out further expansion of the EU, barring Turkey from the bloc based on the decisions of the Nice summit. Moreover, the appointment of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new pope has unsettled Europe’s political leaders due to his objections to the integration of Muslim Turkey within a Christian Europe… The fact that the new pontiff is German means his opinions hold particular sway in his country; this could be why Schroeder – a staunch supporter of Turkey’s EU accession – spoke out in favor of the rights of the Istanbul Patriarchate…