16 October 2004
The French parliament convened yesterday to discuss Turkey's
accession to the European Union (EU), but reactions were split.
Although Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin gave his support to
Turkish accession, differences of opinions within the parties were as
numerous as those among and between them.
Along with Raffarin, Foreign Minister Michael Barnier and the Green
Party supported Turkey, but some deputies of the Union for a Popular
Movement Party (UMP), the French Democracy Union (UDF), and some
Socialist Party deputies stood against Turkey's membership.
Raffarin tried to calm down the parties opposed to Turkey with a
speech in which he said Turkey is connected to Europe with historical
and geographical ties and its desire to take place among EU members
is "legitimate". When the time comes, this will come to life, added
Raffarin. A modern, democratic and stable Turkey will add new
horizons to Europe and France is ready to take Turkey's side during
the reform process, underlined the French Prime Minister.
"Turkey shouldn't be left in the arms of those who want a clash of
civilizations and an Islam-West clash," said the French Prime
Minister as he stressed that Turkey is undergoing big change and
should be given time to fulfill the membership conditions. He also
said that if Turkey fails to meet the requisites, its membership will
not take place. In that case, he said, the process may end with a
"privileged membership". "History will decide on Turkey's EU
membership," he said.
Meanwhile, Barnier said EU should start membership negotiations for
Turkey and that a country that has met the Copenhagen Criteria needs
to be given the opportunity to prove itself. The Union will have the
control and, if needed, negotiations can be suspended.
When asked whether or not recognition of the alleged Armenian
genocide could be a pre-condition, Barnier said that the subject is
not among the Copenhagen Criteria.
Speaking on behalf of the Green Party, Noel Mamere said that the
Greens support Turkey's accession to the Union. While enumerating the
reasons for their support, Mamere said, "For the EU's multicultural
development, to show it is not a Christian club, and to prevent a
clash of civilizations, we support the start of membership
negotiations for Turkey."
15 October 2004, Zaman Online