” On Europe Day the EU’s ‘group of wise men’ will submit its report on the challenges facing Europe until 2030. I had the chance to gather some views from some of these men and women, who have worked in secrecy for a year and a half. A rumour says that when they were entrusted the effort, one condition was demanded by France: that they should not touch upon Turkey.
But it would be a very strange kind of report about Europe in 2030, if it doesn’t say if Turkey is in or out by then. Or why it should, or should not be. I think that if Felipe Gonzalez wants to go down in history as a great figure of EU integration, he cannot avoid the subject. A great EU figure doesn’t need to bow to a country’s president. “
Here is my own, personal view: In my recollection, it is actually France that asked for this ‘groupe de reflexion’, as Sarkozy was hoping it would in fact address the question of EU borders. Others refrained from making this part of the explicit mandate, as it would be divisive and controversial. Which of course doesn’t brush the issue of the table.
So, far from me to claim defending Sarkozy’s position on Turkey, but I think he does support an open debate on it. Contrary to those who think Turkey (one day Ukraine?) should and can be handled ‘just like the others, out of fairness’. With a ‘cut & paste’ from previous accession Treaties (I do simplify here), what I call the ‘photocopy approach’.
What some people in Paris fear, IMHO, is not the debate but part of the answers. There is a strong body of opinion in Europe in favour of Turkey’s eventual accession. Not currently a majority, but it could increase if and when the perspective becomes more likely (iterative process wish / forecast). That in turn requires a stronger debate. Which – Georgi is right – indeed Gonzales should trigger and support. Instead of keeping things behind closed doors since 18 months…
In my view, what we need is a debate, and a creative one, leading to new solutions, out of the impasse. For the moment there is very little behind the idea of a ‘strategic partnership’, so it’s not really an alternative. So, who has a better solution?
I claim to be a non-expert, and ready to be proven wrong… right here below!