Shedding the old vision

The EU decision to put further expansion plans on hold until the bloc’s governments have reformed its creaking institutions does not deal a fatal blow to Turkey’s European ambitions. The reason is that the question of reforms, which is pending after the constitutional debacle in France and the Netherlands, will have been resolved long before the Muslim nation has wrapped up its membership talks. For the time being, the EU has not closed its door on Ankara. In fact, the decision to postpone the release of the Commission’s progress report on Turkey until November 8 gave the Erdogan government a chance to pass some more EU-oriented measures. Concerning Turkey’s refusal to apply the expanded customs union protocol on Cyprus, the Finnish presidency has proposed a plan that foresees the re-opening of the Famagusta port and the transfer of Varosha under UN control as well as giving Cypriot planes and ships access to certain Turkish ports and airports. Ankara snubbed the presidency’s proposal while Nicosia responded with counter-proposals. In any case it would be premature to claim that the impasse will persist until December. Permanent ruptures are rare in the EU cosmos. Nevertheless, it seems that Ankara’s talks with the union have not improved understanding between the two sides. Rather they seem to have increased mistrust. The belief that a special relationship – instead of full membership – would benefit the EU as well as Turkey is gradually gaining ground. But such development would be the death knell for the vision espoused by Greece’s political establishment, which saw Turkey’s so-called Europeanization as a means of easing tension with its eastern neighbor.