European Press Review: Change of Heart | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 24.09.2004
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European Press Review: Change of Heart

European editorials on Friday commented on Turkey submitting to European demands for beginning EU membership talks and Germany’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The EU Commission has resolved all the existing problems with Turkey – at least that’s what the EU Enlargement Commissioner Günter Verheugen thinks, wrote the Luxemburger Wort newspaper from Luxembourg. The commission will now probably recommend beginning membership talks with Turkey in its upcoming progress

report, the paper said: There is no doubt that Turkey has undertaken reforms at breathtaking speed, the paper noted, but the geographic, historical, economic, political, cultural, mentality and religious differences suggest that Turkey cannot join the European community of values.

Austria’s Der Standard wrote that Prime Minister Erdogan’s change of heart shows to what extent Istanbul is prepared to adapt to EU demands. But even if accession talks may now be set, the negotiations will be long and arduous, the paper added. The tug-of-war over Turkey’s now scuttled plans to criminalize adultery will not be the last conflict between Istanbul and Brussels, the paper warned.

Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger asked how Prime Minister Erdogan could have seriously thought that Brussels would swallow his concessions to his Islamic-conservative clientele? Or, is Erdogan just a clever machiavellian, who calculated this maneuver to force the opponents of reform in his own party to accept his European line, the paper added.

Another Swiss newspaper, the Basler Zeitung, thought Erdogan may go down in history. In a era when radical groups in the name of Islam have declared total war against western values, Erdogan’s move could be a signal to the rest of the Islamic world.

In typical French fashion, the French daily Le Figaro was cynical, in particular about Washington’s intentions. It said that the United States supports Turkey’s membership because they know that is the best way to make the EU, this competitor for global hegemony, explode.

Turning to Germany, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera commented on Berlin’s push for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The paper saw Italy having to take a back seat if that happens. The real criteria, the paper emphasized, is assuring regional representation with countries like Japan, Brazil or India. On this key point, however, it is unthinkable that Europe would accept just one joint seat on the Council.