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AHI Letter Responds to Washington Times Editorial
September 27, 2005—No. 82 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter Responds to Washington Times Editorial

WASHINGTON, DC—On September 19, 2005, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis submitted a letter to the editor responding to a Washington Times editorial titled "France, the spoiler" (September 14, 2005; Page A18). The text of the letter appears below, followed by the Washington Times editorial to which the letter responds.

September 19, 2005

Letter to the Editor
The Washington Times
3600 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20002
Dear Editor:

Your editorial "France, the spoiler" misses the mark regarding the arguments pertaining to Cyprus and its impact to the beginning of Turkey’s EU accession talks.

The French should be congratulated for raising the issue of Cyprus when President Chirac said, " [I]t is impossible to open negotiations with a country, which does not recognize one of the Union’s members." By Turkey not recognizing another member of the EU, which she aspires to join, what does that say for the very core principles that govern the EU?

Let us remember that Turkey will not negotiate its accession with the EU Commission but with the 25 EU governments! That includes the Republic of Cyprus.

The editorial criticizes the EU for admitting Cyprus "nevertheless" even though they voted against the Annan Plan. However, the decision on accepting Cyprus had already been made and was not tied to the referenda vote. Cyprus went through an arduous 7-year negotiation process to get into the EU. She met all the criteria in April 2003 and became a full member on May 1, 2004. As to the Plan, 76 percent of the Greek Cypriots had no real choice but to vote a resounding no because the plan was not democratic, functional, or economically feasible.

By contrast, are we to believe that Turkey satisfied even the basic criteria to get a negotiation date? Isn’t Turkey occupying Cyprus? Isn’t Turkey violating its neighbor’s borders in the Aegean? Isn’t Turkey restricting religious freedom of minorities in Turkey? Doesn’t the military establishment heavily influence the Turkish government? And does the Turkish economy meet the EU criteria?

Regarding the "economic challenges" mentioned, I bring to your attention an editorial in the Washington Times (12-18-04). In part it states, "…combined with its relative poverty it (Turkey) would be a net recipient of EU subsidies…Turkey could receive between $20.2 billion and $34.2 billion in annual subsidies starting in 2005."

Nonetheless, as pointed out in the editorial, the British do support Turkey’s accession. Since the British are also selective in how they participate (they don’t belong in the Euro Zone), it would seem that they support an EU based on an a la carte basis. This would suit Turkey just fine—enjoy all possible advantages with minimal obligations.


Nick Larigakis
Executive Director
American Hellenic Insitute

Washington Times, The (DC)
September 14, 2005
France, the spoiler
Page: A18

Article Text:

If France had its way, Turkey would be kept waiting at the EU altar indefinitely—no explicit rejection needed. Fortunately, Britain has risen to challenge French obstructionism, and has accurately described how important Turkey is to the West.

In a speech Friday in London, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that bringing Turkey into the union would demonstrate that "Western and Islamic cultures can thrive together as partners in the modern world." Mr. Straw has it right. Much of the Islamic world is gaining a new political awareness and a yearning for political representation, as they see Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese enjoy new freedoms. It is a propitious time to demonstrate how Turkey is benefiting, too. "We all have an interest in the modernization of Turkey and of reform there," Mr. Straw said. "If we make the wrong decision, we could find that we have a crisis on our own doorstep."

A move by France and others to block Turkey's entry to the European Union, on the other hand, would strengthen the hand of extremists calling for war between Islam and the West.

Pandering to domestic isolationists, French President Jacques Chirac is trying to use Ankara's unwillingness to recognize Cyprus as a pretext for delaying Turkey's accession talks, which are slated to begin on Oct. 3. Mr. Chirac said, "[I]t is impossible to open negotiations with a country which does not recognize one of the union's members."

Mr. Chirac is adopting a one-sided posture on the complex Turkey-Cyprus issue. The dispute between the ethnic Turks in the north of Cyprus and ethnic Greeks in the south is three decades old. The Turkish Cypriot state and Ankara accepted a U.N.-brokered a settlement to the crisis last year. The Greeks Cypriots rejected the plan in a referendum, but the European Union admitted Cyprus shortly afterwards nevertheless and recognized the Greek Cypriot administration as the sole and official government of the island.

Europe should not hold Turkey's entry talks hostage to the Cyprus issue. Britain has proposed a potential compromise, recommending that Turkey need not recognize Cyprus for entry talks to begin, but should officially recognize Cyprus before it enters the union—which is about 10 to 15 years down the road.

It is vital that Europe stay focused on the broad significance of Turkey entering the EU. The union undoubtedly faces some economic challenges with Turkey's integration, but Europe will also reap geopolitical dividends as it reaches out to Turkey's allies. The EU bureaucracy must uphold the criteria for entry, but it must also be fair and consistent with Turkey.

Copyright 2005 News World Communications, Inc.


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