European Press Review: One-time Chance | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.10.2004
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European Press Review: One-time Chance

European editors Wednesday had a lot to say about joining the EU in general and specifically about Turkey’s bid. Other dailies commented on Donald Rumsfeld's revelation that there was no link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Germany’s Frankfurter Rundschau was a bit confused by how politicians are describing the benefits that Turkish EU membership would provide. It thought saying that Turkey would build a bridge for Europe to have more influence in the region just creates more questions. If this is all about providing security for the region, then Europe should open up membership talks with countries in North Africa, the paper argued. It complained that the problem with this whole discussion is that the arguments put forward in favor of Turkish membership are too weak for Europeans to stand behind.

Le Soir in Brussels commented on the apparent dwindling of the EU’s eagerness to take on new members. It said the gear stick is now in the hands of cautious drivers. The commission is sending signals that countries can begin negotiations but should not expect to gain full membership in the near future. The daily thought that by doing this, the EU is giving everyone time to swallow the pill before letting the public decide whether they want to let 70 million Turks join the EU.

Staying with the topic of holding referendums, Denmark’s Information wrote that European Commission President Jose Barroso supports the idea of individual EU countries deciding whether Turkey should join the club. Even if Turkey fulfils all the criteria demanded by the EU, it still has to overcome the hurdle of the referendums. The paper reminded Europeans how they complain about America acting like a bull in a china shop in the Middle East, yet they are shuffling their feet over the prospects of Turkish workers flooding the market, expensive agriculture subsidies and the problems of cultural differences. It asserted that Europe has the chance of a lifetime to make a clever security decision that would bring a Muslim country into the fold – a decision that the paper thought should not be left to 450 million Europeans.

In Britain, some editorial writers cast their spotlight on the speech made by United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The Guardian said he was at his laconic best when he said there was no "strong, hard evidence" linking al Qaeda to Iraq. This was not one of the defence secretary’s famous "unknown unknowns", but a clear known, albeit unconvincingly qualified, said the paper, by his statement shortly afterwards that said he had been "regrettably misunderstood." The paper pointed out that this purported link was central to Washington’s case for war against Iraq. The daily quoted comments made during the first televised debate between Bush and Senator John Kerry last week: Bush said the Iraq war wasn’t pre-emptive because "the enemy attacked us." Kerry retorted "Saddam Hussein didn’t."

Donald Rumsfeld’s admission will surprise no one who took the trouble to read the report produced by the US Sept.11 commission in July, remarked the Independent. In electoral terms, the British paper estimated that Rumsfeld’s was a gaffe of the highest order; but it said, it was also the truth.