Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Sarkozy cancels Sweden visit over Turkey

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has cancelled a visit to Sweden scheduled for next Tuesday (2 June) in order to avoid a clash on the question of Turkey's EU membership just days before the European elections and a month before Stockholm takes over the EU's rotating presidency.

Officially, Mr Sarkozy's office said the trip was cancelled "for agenda reasons."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • "We should avoid halting EU enlargement," said Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

But the French president, who is an outspoken opponent of Turkey's entry to the European Union, did not want to highlight the strong divergence of views on this topic with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Le Monde reported on Thursday (28 May).

Sweden favours further EU enlargement, including to Turkey. On Monday this week, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt told Le Figaro newspaper that the EU had "a strategic interest" in Turkey's EU integration and warned against "closing the door" to Ankara.

"If we judge Cyprus to be in Europe, although it is as in island along Syria's shores, it is hard not to consider that Turkey is in Europe," Mr Bildt said, referring to Mr Sarkozy's repeated statements that Turkey is not a European country and does not belong to Europe.

Additionally, Mr Sarkozy probably did not appreciate that Mr Bildt expressed views different from his on the economy, French newspapers comment.

In the Figaro interview, Mr Bildt said: "My vision of Europe is not as defensive as I observe it with other people."

In a reference to aid plans for the car industry - very much promoted by Mr Sarkozy - the Swedish top diplomat said that for him, "spending taxpayers' money to subsidise existing structures is a very good way of wasting money."

The French president's trip to Sweden was cancelled the day after the interview was published.

"Nicolas Sarkozy cancelled his visit because of the Carl Bildt interview," one minister told Le Monde.

"The president wanted to avoid a clash on Turkey and did not want that his visit to Sweden interferes with the elections [five days later]. There are [also] too many dossiers that are too important to prepare with the Swedish EU presidency to spoil that visit," another official told the paper.

The upcoming Swedish EU presidency is the real reason behind the cancellation, rather than the context of the European elections, according to Le Figaro journalist Pierre Rousseiln.

"Nicolas Sarkozy does not fear confrontation," he wrote in his blog, adding that defending his position in Sweden could even have been beneficial for Mr Sarkozy ahead of next Sunday's vote.

If he refused to go to Stockholm, he did it to avoid a clash just a month before the Swedish EU presidency starts and it is a sign that Mr Sarkozy is expecting a number of difficulties during Sweden's six-month term at the head of the bloc, Mr Rousselin wrote.

The French president's office is currently working on rescheduling the visit for another date before the end of June.

Analysis

Eastern Europe wakes up with Trump hangover

Trump's legacy in the region is mostly linked to the bilateral accords normalising economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia. During the signing of the Washington Agreement, Trump allegedly pressured the Serbian president to move Serbia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

EU leaders to discuss vaccine certificates

While some member states hope vaccine certificates could revive tourism, EU officials point out that it is not clear if vaccinated people can still carry the virus and infect others.

Dutch government resigns two months before election

The four parties of the Dutch government, lead by prime minister Mark Rutte, have decided to let the government fall. On 17 March, two months from now, there are parliamentary elections in the Netherlands.

News in Brief

  1. Putin holds out olive branch to Europe
  2. US snatched Russian anti-air system from Libya warlord
  3. UK to extradite alleged trafficker to EU despite Brexit
  4. EU puts trust in Boeing 737s after post-crash ban
  5. EU animal-export trade under harsh spotlight
  6. City of London wants to set rules for EU
  7. MEPs want 2030 targets to reduce consumption footprint
  8. Coronavirus cases worldwide pass 100m

Coronavirus

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Poland imposes anti-abortion law amid EU concern
  2. The EU's vaccine strategy - the key points
  3. EU-AstraZeneca row flares up after vaccines shortfall
  4. First Covid, now McKinsey - how austerity hit EU healthcare
  5. Frontex suspends operations in Hungary
  6. Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office
  7. MEPs: Portugal 'risks undermining' trust in EU prosecutor
  8. EU to control vaccine exports in row over delays

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us