1 December 2004
Nowadays Turkey has reached its peak level in French press. Turkey, its accession to the European Union (EU), its history, its people have dominated not only the newspapers but also all the debates in the country. Especially the negative voices have become dominant and the major actors are the former French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing and the newly elected leader of "People Movement Union Party" Nicolas Sarkozy.
Last week on Thursday (25/11), in an opinion column in Le Figaro newspaper, Giscard D'Estaing, whose article was entitled "For a return to reason", stated that talks with Ankara which could begin next year should focus on forming a "privileged partnership" rather than full accession. D'Estaing mentioned that Turkey was not a part of the European tradition, culture or history. "The European convention sought to define the foundations of what brings us together: the cultural legacy of ancient Greece and Rome, the religious heritage which infused European life, the creative enthusiasm of the Renaissance, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the contribution of rational and scientific thought," he wrote and added that "None of these elements was shared by Turkey." On the other hand, as a leader who became famous with his metaphor "Christian Club" about the EU, D'Estaing strongly denied that the country's Muslim religion was the reason for his opposition. He argued nonetheless that Europeans needed to "strengthen their identity" to develop a "European patriotism" and that this process could only suffer from Turkish membership. "Turkish membership, whenever it took place, would change the nature of the European project," he stated. According to former French President Giscard d'Estaing, offering "privileged partnership status" to Turkey would be "the kind of constructive and realistic attitude that would allow for progress" but on the other hand, this offer looks unparallel with the EU history. It can be said that, D'Estaing joined to the campaign for "third way" for Turkey. The third way option for Turkey was stated by Jacques Chirac in the mid November and it offered that if in three to four years, things have progressed but there are still obstacles that France will not surmount, a sufficiently strong link without integration into the EU would be built.
Another major actor that took place in the political scene in France is Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is the former Economy and Finance Minister. Last week on Sunday (28/11) Sarkozy was elected as the chairman of France's ruling People Movement Union Party. Sarkozy will also be candidate for the country's presidency in the 2007 elections against Chirac. He is even considered as the next president of the country. As a powerful statesman, his declarations are very significant and play important role in the political arena in France.
Sarkozy, known by his stance against Turkey and Chirac who support Turkey's accession to the EU, lastly declared that European Union as the greatest integration of the century will not expand until eternity and Turkey should be a "special partner" rather than a full member of this integration. He declared that he was not against "co-operation" with Turkey and added that "I want Turkey to be associated with Europe but not integrated into the European Union"
D'Estaing and Sarkozy declarations constitute one side of the coin in France. The other side can be called as pro-Turkey and is leaded by Jacques Chirac. The recent statement of D'Estaing and Sarkozy prove that the opposition side is growing day by day. Especially, the "predictions" about the Sarkozy's prospective presidency make the next scene clear. The most blurred point is about Turkey's status. The membership or partnership dilemma looks very ironical. It is true that there is something ÔÇÝprivileged' but what kind of privileges? D'Estaing and Sarkozy's optimistic (!) declarations include very important clues and should be reevaluated by everybody.
Turkey : For A Return To Reason by Valery Giscard D'Estaing (Turquie : Pour Le Retour A La Raison par Valery Giscard D'Estaing/Le Figaro/25.11.2004)
The beginning of the negotiations with Turkey: the members of the EU will decide to mention its presidency (Ouverture de n+®gociations avec la Turquie : les membres de l'UE d+®cideront rappelle sa pr+®sidence/Le Monde/ 24.11.2004)
Turks are already European ! (Ces Turcs d+®j+á europ+®ens/Liberation/29.11.2004)
The T˝ turcosceptics T¬ stop the mass immigration by C+®cile Daumas (Les turcosceptiques craignent immigration massive et d+®localisations par C+®cile Daumas/Liberation/29.11.2004