Positive stance towards Iceland – public opposition to Turkey

Luxembourg’s gov­ern­ment has a pos­i­tive atti­tude con­cern­ing the Ice­landic appli­ca­tion for EU mem­ber­ship. How­ev­er, Ice­land, as every oth­er can­di­date state, has to pass the nor­mal acces­sion pro­ce­dure. In fact, this will be much eas­i­er since Ice­land, as a mem­ber of the Nordic Union, is already a mem­ber of the Schen­gen Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem and the Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Area. As Euro­barom­e­ter polls show, Luxembourg’s pop­u­la­tion has no prob­lems admit­ting Ice­landers, which might not only be explained by the pres­ence of an Ice­landic com­mu­ni­ty in Lux­em­bourg, but also because Ice­landic Air­ways used Luxembourg’s Find­el Air­port as a hub for its con­ti­nen­tal Euro­pean flights. The bad per­for­mance of some Ice­landic banks in the most recent finan­cial cri­sis did not real­ly jeop­ar­dise this pos­i­tive approach.

Luxembourg’s Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs, Jean Assel­born, vis­it­ed the West­ern Balka­ns in Feb­ru­ary 2010 and used this oppor­tu­ni­ty to explain the Lux­em­bour­gish approach towards EU enlarge­ment in the West­ern Balka­ns. After his meet­ing with For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Milan Rocen from Mon­tene­gro, Assel­born praised the efforts made by this West­ern Balka­ns’ nation to come clos­er to the EU. Assel­born espe­cial­ly praised the efforts made over the past years in the field of visa free entrance into Schen­gen-coun­tries, and he recalled the sta­bil­i­sa­tion pact signed by Mon­tene­gro in 2007. Fur­ther­more, the efforts made by Mon­tene­gro to respond to the EU ques­tion­naire were also high­ly appre­ci­at­ed. Assel­born reaf­firmed Luxembourg’s firm com­mit­ment to offer the Balkan states a place inside the EU. He reit­er­at­ed his encour­age­ment to West­ern Balkan nations to rein­force their reform process and to strength­en their region­al cooperation.

In Skop­je, cap­i­tal of (the For­mer Yugoslav Repub­lic of) Mace­do­nia (FYROM) the Min­is­ters of For­eign Affairs Assel­born and Milosos­ki under­lined the pos­i­tive char­ac­ter of the progress reports pre­sent­ed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. Obvi­ous­ly, the debate on the offi­cial name of FYROM con­tin­ues to be the main obsta­cle to the EU mem­ber­ship of Mace­do­nia. Assel­born could not present a magician’s solu­tion to this most dif­fi­cult prob­lem. How­ev­er, he com­pared the Greek-Mace­don­ian con­flict with Ger­man-French rela­tions after World War II: “Only a res­olute future-ori­ent­ed spir­it may be able to offer a solu­tion. This solu­tion will nei­ther be dic­tat­ed in Paris nor in Berlin and cer­tain­ly not in Lux­em­bourg.”11Europaforum.lu: Les ques­tions européennes au cen­tre du “tour des Balka­ns” de Jean Assel­born, 9–11 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.europaforum.public.lu/fr/actualites/2010/02/asselborn-balkans/index.html (last access: 22 June 2010). Mace­don­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Anto­nio Milosos­ki tried to com­pare the Mace­don­ian sit­u­a­tion with rela­tions between the Grand Duchy of Lux­em­bourg and the Bel­gian province of Lux­em­bourg.22In fact both sit­u­a­tions can­not be com­pared for his­tor­i­cal, geo­graph­i­cal and polit­i­cal rea­sons. See: RTL Radio Let­ze­buerg: Den Aussem­i­nis­ter op Viste am Balkan, 10 Feb­ru­ary 2010. Assel­born was sat­is­fied with the sig­nif­i­cant progress made by Mace­do­nia in the fields of jus­tice and police affairs. Fur­ther­more, the gov­ern­ment of Mace­do­nia sta­bilised, in his eyes, the nation­al insti­tu­tions respect­ing fun­da­men­tal rights and com­mon law.33Europaforum.lu: Les ques­tions européennes au cen­tre du “tour des Balka­ns” de Jean Assel­born, 9–11 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.europaforum.public.lu/fr/actualites/2010/02/asselborn-balkans/index.html (last access: 22 June 2010).

Asselborn’s posi­tion reflects the gen­er­al opin­ion of the Lux­em­bour­gish pub­lic as it is expressed in the press and par­lia­ment. 44La Voix: L’ARYM aux portes de l’UE, 11 Feb­ru­ary 2010; Tage­blatt: Die schwierige Über­win­dung der Ver­gan­gen­heit, 11 Feb­ru­ary 2010.

As the Euro­barom­e­ter opin­ion sur­veys tak­en over the past years con­firm, there is an out­right major­i­ty in Luxembourg’s pub­lic opin­ion which oppos­es any admis­sion of Turkey into the EU in the fore­see­able future.55Euro­baromètre 69: L’opinion publique dans l’Union européenne, print­emps 2008, Lux­em­bourg. Lux­em­bourg has nev­er­the­less accept­ed, like its part­ners, to start an open-end­ed nego­ti­a­tion process lead­ing to pos­si­ble Turk­ish EU mem­ber­ship. So far, this sit­u­a­tion has not changed. There are polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic ana­lysts in Lux­em­bourg who do see advan­tages in a pos­si­ble Turk­ish mem­ber­ship.66Serge Ken­nerknecht: Gestärkt, geschwächt, Tage­blatt, 31 March 2010. Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, the mem­ber­ship per­spec­tives of Turkey or oth­er coun­tries which are not includ­ed in the next enlarge­ment round are not a top­ic on the polit­i­cal agen­da of the pub­lic opin­ion and polit­i­cal class in Lux­em­bourg. In gen­er­al, Luxembourg’s vot­ers do not like any fur­ther enlarge­ment of the EU before con­sol­i­da­tion of the last one.77Euro­baromètre 69: L’opinion publique dans l’Union européenne, print­emps 2008, Luxembourg.

In his last dec­la­ra­tion on for­eign and Euro­pean pol­i­cy, Min­is­ter Assel­born point­ed out that he sup­ports all efforts to cre­ate sta­bil­i­ty and pros­per­i­ty beyond the EU’s out­side bor­ders in the Mediter­ranean and East­ern Europe. Lux­em­bourg wants to offer the nec­es­sary diplo­mat­ic, finan­cial, eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal instru­ments with­in the frame­work of the Euro­pean Neigh­bour­hood Pol­i­cy. Lux­em­bourg gives equal impor­tance to rela­tions with the south, mean­ing the Union for the Mediter­ranean and the Barcelona Process, as it gives to the East­ern Part­ner­ship. In the Lux­em­bour­gish par­lia­ment, no polit­i­cal par­ty con­test­ed this point from the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs’ dec­la­ra­tion.88The pol­i­cy defined in this dec­la­ra­tion has not changed in the mean­time. See: Jean Assel­born, Min­istre des Affaires étrangères: Déc­la­ra­tion de poli­tique étrangère à la Cham­bre des députés,18 Novem­ber 2009.

    Footnotes

  • 1Europaforum.lu: Les ques­tions européennes au cen­tre du “tour des Balka­ns” de Jean Assel­born, 9–11 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.europaforum.public.lu/fr/actualites/2010/02/asselborn-balkans/index.html (last access: 22 June 2010).
  • 2In fact both sit­u­a­tions can­not be com­pared for his­tor­i­cal, geo­graph­i­cal and polit­i­cal rea­sons. See: RTL Radio Let­ze­buerg: Den Aussem­i­nis­ter op Viste am Balkan, 10 Feb­ru­ary 2010.
  • 3Europaforum.lu: Les ques­tions européennes au cen­tre du “tour des Balka­ns” de Jean Assel­born, 9–11 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.europaforum.public.lu/fr/actualites/2010/02/asselborn-balkans/index.html (last access: 22 June 2010).
  • 4La Voix: L’ARYM aux portes de l’UE, 11 Feb­ru­ary 2010; Tage­blatt: Die schwierige Über­win­dung der Ver­gan­gen­heit, 11 Feb­ru­ary 2010.
  • 5Euro­baromètre 69: L’opinion publique dans l’Union européenne, print­emps 2008, Luxembourg.
  • 6Serge Ken­nerknecht: Gestärkt, geschwächt, Tage­blatt, 31 March 2010.
  • 7Euro­baromètre 69: L’opinion publique dans l’Union européenne, print­emps 2008, Luxembourg.
  • 8The pol­i­cy defined in this dec­la­ra­tion has not changed in the mean­time. See: Jean Assel­born, Min­istre des Affaires étrangères: Déc­la­ra­tion de poli­tique étrangère à la Cham­bre des députés,18 Novem­ber 2009.

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.