Unwanted bride

You could call it political schizophrenia. Turkey has an Islamist government, it is president of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), it is busy building bridges with Iran’s Islamic republic, it has seen one murder of (and three other failed attempts on) Christian priests over the past few months, while according to The Wall Street Journal most politicians and media «preach an extreme combination of America- and Jew-hatred.» Nevertheless the Bush administration, which is hardly friendly to Muslims, is putting enormous pressure on the EU to accept Turkey as a member. «The Americans want us to marry their fiancee regardless whether we like it or not,» a European diplomat said recently. The motives are clear. Turkey’s accession will eventually mean bankruptcy for the Franco-German plan for political integration in favor of the British vision of a loose, free market zone. The short-term objective is to soothe Turkish anger for rekindling the Kurds’ separatist aspirations after their Iraq debacle. Once again Greek and Cypriot interests run the risk of becoming collateral damage of US and British priorities. Ankara’s refusal to recognize the Republic of Cyprus or to even sign the customs union protocol, combined with growing European reservations over Turkey’s EU bid, make it very likely that Ankara will be shown the red card in October. In response, Washington and Ankara have joined hands in an effort to give the impression of diplomatic mobility in the Cyprus issue in order to deflect pressure on Nicosia. These moves were welcomed by the usual coalition of the willing in Athens, which insists that a freeze on Turkey’s EU course is not in Greece’s interests, even if Ankara refuses to meet its basic obligations toward Cyprus and Brussels. Americans may hope to convince Europeans to make an «honest woman» out of Turkey. But they cannot expect Cyprus to marry its violator.