|Footnote --my email to arabnews.com:|
Turkey’s EU Membership
I beg to disagree with your editorial analysis (Chirac’s Rationale, July 1) on the French stance vis-à-vis Turkey. But first, let me debunk the myth that the US earnestly supports Turkey’s EU membership.
It’s in the best, if covert, interest of the US to keep Turkey isolated and surrounded by foes — Russia, Greece (on the issue of Cyprus, at least), Kurdistan, and Turkophobic EU countries (Poland, Bulgaria, etc.). However, US officials are smart fellows and well aware of the current climate of anti-Americanism across Europe. Hence they realize that the shortest way to kill a proposal — any proposal — in Europe is to brand it “American”. My point is that if the Bush administration really wanted to hasten Turkey’s entry into the EU they would keep quiet about it and wouldn’t sweat EU leaders into accepting Turkey’s candidature.
Now you claim that the current French administration is racist and Arabophobic. How wrong: The previous French administration — dubbed “Raffarin II” — boasted of two ministers of Algerian extraction [*]. And what of President Chirac’s triumphant visit to Algeria last fall? Keep in mind that, back in 1954-1962, Lt. Jacques Chirac did fight the French-Algerian war, unlike President Bush who watched the Vietnam War on TV. Chirac is a Gaullist, that is to say, he is keen to preserve France’s Gaullist legacy: Independence of Algeria and respect for the Arab people.
Therefore, don’t misconstrue Chirac’s statements regarding Turkey. Obviously, he must take into account French opinion, which is lukewarm about welcoming Turkey into the EU club. Yet Chirac’s anger was not so much directed at the idea of Turkey joining the EU as at Bush’s cunning attempt to foil it.
After all, it would have been in France’s best interest to have Turkey as a full-fledged European partner back in March 2003 when France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg openly opposed the US occupation of Iraq.
Gustave Jaeger • Brussels, Belgium, published 7 July 2004
[*] YOUNG people waving Algerian and Moroccan flags flocked to the Place de la République in Paris to celebrate the re-election of Jacques Chirac on the night of the second round of the French presidential election on 5 May 2002. A few days later Tokia Saifi joined the new government as secretary of state for sustainable development, and Hamlaoui Mekachera was appointed minister for veterans. Saifi is the daughter of Algerian immigrants, Mekachera a former Algerian officer in the French army.