Focus on enlargement and foreign policies of French Presidency

Enlargement and Turkey’s accession

In the Turk­ish media, Turkey’s gen­er­al eval­u­a­tion of the achieve­ments, fail­ures or weak­ness­es of the French Pres­i­den­cy, is cov­ered under two main head­ings. First, the French Pres­i­den­cy is eval­u­at­ed in terms of its enlarge­ment poli­cies with spe­cif­ic empha­sis on Turkey’s ongo­ing acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions process. The open­ing of two chap­ters, ‘free move­ment of cap­i­tal’ and ‘infor­ma­tion soci­ety and media’, is wel­comed despite the country’s reser­va­tions for Turkey’s full membership.[1] It is agreed that France’s poli­cies attempt­ed to reflect the EU’s gen­er­al atti­tude on enlarge­ment. Yet, the Irish ‘No’ to Lis­bon Treaty, the Geor­gian war and the glob­al finan­cial cri­sis are con­sid­ered as crit­i­cal events that might have shift­ed the pri­or­i­ties in France’s pol­i­cy agen­da con­cern­ing the enlarge­ment process. Sev­er­al civ­il soci­ety groups also crit­i­cised the Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing deci­sions of 11/12 Decem­ber 2008 as propos­ing very lim­it­ed solu­tions in terms of the prospects of enlarge­ment and Turkey-EU rela­tions.

Foreign policy and financial crisis

Sec­ond, the peri­od of France’s EU-pres­i­den­cy is eval­u­at­ed in terms of its for­eign poli­cies, includ­ing the mea­sures it has pro­posed to solve the finan­cial cri­sis, the Geor­gian war, and the envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. A rel­a­tive­ly pos­i­tive atti­tude was formed with regard to Sarkozy’s efforts to resolve the con­flict between Geor­gia and Russia.[2] Addi­tion­al­ly, the alter­na­tive pol­i­cy options the pres­i­den­cy has devel­oped to solve the Lis­bon Treaty impasse cre­at­ed by the Irish neg­a­tive vote in the ref­er­en­dum were also dis­cussed. In this regard, the last Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing held under the French Pres­i­den­cy is eval­u­at­ed pos­i­tive­ly in view of the achieve­ment of a cer­tain con­sen­sus between the EU lead­ers on poli­cies towards over­com­ing the finan­cial cri­sis, envi­ron­men­tal mea­sures, the Geor­gian war and the Lis­bon Treaty. On these issues, the media in Turkey have most­ly cov­ered the gen­er­al eval­u­a­tions of the French Pres­i­den­cy peri­od in the EU countries.[3]

Expectations from the Czech Presidency

The main expec­ta­tions of Turkey for the main pri­or­i­ties of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy, which is approached as sup­port­ing the Turk­ish acces­sion, cen­tre on the momen­tum of the acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions process. Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter, Ali Baba­can, declared “we believe our acces­sion process will be fur­ther advanced dur­ing the Czech Presidency.”[4] How­ev­er, expec­ta­tions from the Czech Pres­i­den­cy peri­od remains lim­it­ed in view of the fact that only two chap­ters of the acces­sion nego­ti­a­tions are usu­al­ly opened dur­ing each EU-pres­i­den­cy because of some mem­ber states’ oppositions.[5] Addi­tion­al­ly, due to the dif­fi­cul­ties aris­ing from the inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal con­junc­tures added to the fact that it is the first expe­ri­ence of the Czech Repub­lic, the expec­ta­tions in terms of fos­ter­ing Turkey-EU rela­tions remain lim­it­ed. Two chap­ters that are ‘tax­a­tion’ and ‘social pol­i­cy and employ­ment’ are expect­ed to be opened in the first half of 2009. In terms of the pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties declared by the Czech Pres­i­den­cy, which are econ­o­my, ener­gy and Europe in the world, sev­er­al fac­tors are under­lined in the media to be tak­en under con­sid­er­a­tion by Turk­ish pol­i­cy mak­ers. These are, the country’s close ties with the US gov­ern­ment, the impor­tance it attach­es to the East­ern Part­ner­ship (that is, fos­ter­ing rela­tions with East­ern EU neigh­bours such as Azer­bai­jan, Arme­nia, Geor­gia, Belarus), and the fact that the coun­try is not in the Euro­zone. Addi­tion­al­ly, the Czech Presidency’s state­ment on the impor­tance of Turkey as the strate­gic part­ner of the EU is empha­sized. The Turk­ish media and civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions have informed the pub­lic about the gen­er­al pri­or­i­ties of the Czech Pres­i­den­cy includ­ing the gen­er­al expec­ta­tions in the EU mem­ber states about the Czech EU-Presidency.[6] As in the case of the French Pres­i­den­cy peri­od, gen­er­al eval­u­a­tions in the EU mem­ber states on the programme’s prospects and chal­lenges, and expec­ta­tions from the Czech Pres­i­den­cy are wide­ly cov­ered in the Turk­ish media.

 

 

 

[1] Hür­riyet: ‘Door to EU left slight­ly ajar’, 12 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://hurriyet.com.tr/. (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[2] Sami Kohen: ‘Fark­lı bir Sarkozy’, Mil­liyet, 17 Decem­ber 2008.
[3] TRT.Haber: ‘Sarkozy AB için ne yap­tı?’, 18 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.trt.net.tr/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[4] Hür­riyet: ‘Door to EU left slight­ly ajar’, 12 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://hurriyet.com.tr/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009); The jour­nal of Turk­ish Week­ly: ‘Czech Pres­i­dent Refreshed the Hopes in Ankara’, avail­able at: http://www.turkishweekly.net/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).
[5] ABHaber.com: ‘AB Dönem Başkan­lığı Çek Cumhuriyeti’ne geçti’, 1 Jan­u­ary 2009, avail­able at: http://www.abhaber.com/; CNNTurk: ‘”AB”de başkan­lık bu gece Çek­lere geçiy­or’, 31 Decem­ber 2008, avail­able at: http://www.cnnturk.com/.
[6] See: http://www.tusiad.org/ (last access: 25 Jan­u­ary 2009).