Thursday

9th Apr 2020

Turkey is not a European country, says Giscard

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the forthright chairman of the Convention, has never been shy about putting forward his own views. This time, however, he has caused more of a furore than usual. In an interview with four newspapers including Le Monde and Handelsblatt, he stated "Turkey is not a European country, it is a country that is situated near Europe." He went on to add that "its capital is not in Europe and 95 per cent of its population live outside Europe."

It is for this reason that the Convention president is not expecting EU heads of state and governments to give a clear signal to Turkey on the start of accession talks at the next European Summit in December. The Frenchman's view runs contrary to the accepted position of the fifteen member state, which have given encouraging signals to Turkey. Just last Wednesday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the current head of the Council, said that "Turkey must be treated like the other candidate countries."

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Mr Giscard argues that supporters of Turkish EU membership have a different agenda. "Those who have most pushed enlargement in the direction of Turkey are the adversaries of the European Union." In reality, they are hoping that this will put an end to European integration, he says.

The Convention chairman went on to criticise the current debate on Turkey. It should not be about the democratic deficit in the country, he urges. Rather the question should be: "Should the EU expand beyond the boundaries of Europe?"

Dehaene picks up the pieces

Mr Giscard did not hold his normal post-Convention press conference on Friday. Jean-Luc Dehaene, the Convention vice-president was left to fend off the press. He said he was sure that Mr Giscard was expressing his "personal view." As to whether the president of a body debating the future of Europe should be making such comment at all, he simply said "I wouldn't have done it." However, he did concede that despite Mr Giscard's strong opinions on the matter, "deciding on enlargement is not a competence of the Convention."

\"Turkey part of Europe for centuries\"

A letter from the Turkish ambassador to the EU, Oguz Demiralp, refutes the Frenchman's comments. "Turkey has been a part of Europe since the tenth century." adding that "it is an unbreakable connection." The letter went on to say that Turkey did not think the Union was afraid of "opening" itself to diversity.

Mr Giscard's controversial comments caused raised eye brows elsewhere. The Commission enlargement spokesman was forced to say that it was Mr Giscard's "personal opinion" and the Commission cannot "ban" people from expressing their opinion.

Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, who recently spoke out in support of Turkey getting a date for starting accession negotiations, stuck to this position. Turkey is an "important partner land" and the "door" should not be closed to it, he said on Friday.

Tension shows over Giscard's Turkey comments

The political reverberations of Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s openly negative stance towards Turkey’s future membership of the European Union are still rippling throughout Europe.

The surprise comments from the Convention chairman on the future of Europe that Turkey "is not a European country" have sparked an angry reaction in the Turkish Parliament.

EPP sticks to Giscard's line on Turkey

A presentation by the European People's Party (EPP) of a draft constitution built up around Mr Giscard's 'skeletal' structure saw Elmar Brok, German MEP and Wilfried Martens, chairman of the EPP, add their views to the Turkey-in-the-EU question. Ultimately "the same conclusions as Giscard" have been reached, said Mr Brok.

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