Friday, 2 September 2011

How Brussels and Washington Conspired to Thwart Sarkozy's Opposition to Turkish EU Membership

Luc Ferry, a former Education Minister, political commentator and
close friend of Sarkozy's, has urged that we attempt to
change Sarkozy's opposition to Turkey's EU membership. While
a change of heart appears extremely unlikely given Sarkozy's
political identification with opposition to Turkish
membership and his categorical statements on the issue, we
should seek to persuade him to temper his post-election
rhetoric, allow accession negotiations to proceed, and at
least not close the door dramatically and completely at this
Ambassador Ware and PolChief met with EU
Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn July 19 on the
margins of the "Finland Arena," a gathering of Finnish
political leaders that takes place annually on the
margins of the world famous Pori Jazz Festival.

Rehn suggested that Turkey's July 22 election
could have an "unpredictable" effect on Turkey's troubled
EU accession process. The AKP remains the best bet for
keeping reforms on track, and one-party governments -- as
opposed to coalitions -- tend to have the best record,
both on reform and in managing domestic expectations.
One troubling aspect, he added, is that the rapidly growing
youth vote in Turkey is divided, and there are no clear
leaders emerging.

¶4. (C) Turning to the EU's role, Rehn emphasized that the
Council-approved policies currently in place regarding
Turkey's accession process will not change -- despite
clear messages from President Sarkozy suggesting
otherwise. That said, Sarkozy promised the French
electorate he would seek to slow or even halt Turkey's
bid, and "one should not underestimate his determination"
to deliver on them. Rehn outlined one possible solution:
The EU may ultimately need to draft new conclusions that
allow Sarkozy to say to the French public, "I've
introduced 'privileged partnership' to the EU
discussion." At the same time, those conclusion's "fine
print" would have to include language that allows the
Turks to say that if they stay on track, they still have
some control over their long term EU prospects. "It's
not very elegant," Rehn smiled, "but that's how the EU

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