Sarkozy mars Turkish EU aim

Washington Times, DC
May 11 2007

Sarkozy mars Turkish EU aim
By Andrew Borowiec
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
May 11, 2007

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Nicolas Sarkozy’s election as president of France
is likely to make Turkey’s membership in the European Union more
elusive than ever, Turkish analysts say.
His categorical opposition to Turkish membership in the 27-nation
bloc is "hammering the last nail into the coffin of Turkish-EU
relations," one analyst said.
"This is bad for Turkey," said Mehet Ali Birand, a leading
Turkish liberal commentator.
During his electoral campaign, Mr. Sarkozy stressed his view that
Turkey is not a European country and that its membership would dilute
the bloc’s cohesion and dangerously stretch its borders. Mr. Sarkozy
also has said he would sign a French bill passed by parliament
penalizing all those who deny the genocide of Armenians.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s embattled prime minister, asked
the European Commission "to avoid statements and attitudes that would
negatively affect our negotiating process."
As it is, the process has been dogged by problems that include
Turkey’s refusal to recognize the Greek Cypriot government, the
degree of Turkish freedom of expression, the army’s role in politics,
and its refusal to acknowledge World War I Ottoman massacres of
Armenians.
Turkey’s negotiations with the European bloc have stalled. The
European Union has suspended talks on eight of 35 parts of the
negotiating process, but European Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso said the whole concept is based not on one country’s views
but "on the basis of a mandate decided unanimously."
Instead of admitting Turkey, Mr. Sarkozy has proposed that the
European Union give the country the leading role in a planned
grouping of Mediterranean-area countries. Turkey has rejected
suggestions of a "privileged association" with the bloc.
Regardless of whether Mr. Sarkozy’s election will have an
immediate effect on Turkey’s EU talks, relations between France and
Turkey appear to be heading into troubled waters.
After the French National Assembly vote on the massacres of
Armenians in October, Turkey froze contacts with a French pipeline
consortium and warned the United States that approval of a similar
bill by the U.S. Congress would cast "a serious shadow" on its
relations with Washington.
According to the mass-circulation Istanbul daily Milliyet, Mr.
Sarkozy’s election "will further worsen the already chilly
Turkish-French ties."
Meanwhile, popular disinterest among Turks toward the European
Union has been growing. "The enthusiasm is gone," said Can Baydarol,
a Turkish political scientist. "Turkey could easily move toward a
more isolationist policy."

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