French Parliament Divided on Turkey’s EU Accession

French Parliament Divided on Turkey’s EU Accession

10.15.2004 Friday

The French parliament convened yesterday to discuss Turkey’s accession
to the European Union (EU), but reactions were split. Although Prime
Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin gave his support to Turkish accession,
differences of opinions within the parties were as numerous as those
among and between them.

Along with Raffarin, Foreign Minister Michael Barnier and the Green
Party supported Turkey, but some deputies of the Union for a Popular
Movement Party (UMP), the French Democracy Union (UDF), and some
Socialist Party deputies stood against Turkey’s membership.

Raffarin tried to calm down the parties opposed to Turkey with a
speech in which he said Turkey is connected to Europe with historical
and geographical ties and its desire to take place among EU members
is “legitimate”. When the time comes, this will come to life, added
Raffarin. A modern, democratic and stable Turkey will add new horizons
to Europe and France is ready to take Turkey’s side during the reform
process, underlined the French Prime Minister.

“Turkey shouldn’t be left in the arms of those who want a clash of
civilizations and an Islam-West clash,” said the French Prime Minister
as he stressed that Turkey is undergoing big change and should be
given time to fulfill the membership conditions. He also said that
if Turkey fails to meet the requisites, its membership will not take
place. In that case, he said, the process may end with a “privileged
membership”. “History will decide on Turkey’s EU membership,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barnier said EU should start membership negotiations for
Turkey and that a country that has met the Copenhagen Criteria needs
to be given the opportunity to prove itself. The Union will have the
control and, if needed, negotiations can be suspended.

When asked whether or not recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide
could be a pre-condition, Barnier said that the subject is not among
the Copenhagen Criteria.

Speaking on behalf of the Green Party, Noel Mamere said that the
Greens support Turkey’s accession to the Union. While enumerating the
reasons for their support, Mamere said, “For the EU’s multicultural
development, to show it is not a Christian club, and to prevent a
clash of civilizations, we support the start of membership negotiations
for Turkey.”

The Communist Party’s parliamentary group president, Alain Bocquet,
took the floor and argued that the EU Constitution should be approved
before saying “yes” to negotiations with Turkey. Bocquet accused
the power of neglecting the issue of Constitution discussions
to address the Turkey issue. The president of the Parliamentary
Foreign Affairs Commission, Edouard Balladur, said the EU’s priority
is to approve the Constitution and pointed out the importance of
achieving integration with the new members before taking another step
toward another enlargement. Balladur went on to say that starting
membership negotiations with Turkey jeopardizes approval of the EU
Constitution. He supported a “privileged partnership” instead of
full membership. Meanwhile, there was division within the Socialist
party. Some socialist deputies demanded recognition of the alleged
Armenian genocide as a pre-condition while some of the party’s members
supported Turkey’s bid.

Ali Ihsan Aydin