Ankara has no place in the European Union: Both historically and economically speaking, Turkey is less European a country than Russia, ex-president and head of France's main opposition party Nicolas Sarkozy stated in an exclusive interview with the iTele channel.
"Turkey is in Asia Minor. I'm sorry to say it, Turkey is a great country, a great civilization, but it is a bridge between Asia and Europe,” the head of center-right party The Republicans stated in the interview published on Saturday.
“Turkey has no place in Europe. I have always adhered to this position, it is based on common sense. This doesn't mean that I have anything against the Turks. We need them, they are our allies in NATO. But if we begin to explain it – that Turkey is in Europe – European school students will have to be told that the European border lies in Syria. Where's common sense?"
Sarkozy asked. The former French leader said he is against Ankara joining the EU not only because it is too far from Europe by definition, but over the government's treatment of journalists and Kurds just as well.
"It's not just that. What's the idea behind Europe? Europe is a union of European countries. The question is very simple, even in a geographical sense, is Turkey a European country? Turkey has only one shore of the Bosphorus in Europe. Can Turkey be regarded a European country culturally, historically, and economically speaking? If we say that, we want the European Union's death,” he said.
“From that standpoint, if we talk about Turkey's accession, let me tell you that in many ways Russia is a much more European country than Turkey.”Source
This is actually not a new position for Turkey. He enunciated an anti-Turkish position before he ever became French president. So why didn't he derail Turkey's EU application when he was in office? Because of American pressure. As I have posted previously (link and link), the American government pressures anti-Turkey EU leaders like Merkel or Sarkozy to restrain their scepticism and allow Turkey's EU application to proceed. This is documented in the Wikileaks cables, some of which I reproduce below.
Luc Ferry, a former Education Minister, political commentator and close friend of Sarkozy's, has urged that we attempt to change Sarkozy's opposition to Turkey's EU membership. While a change of heart appears extremely unlikely given Sarkozy's political identification with opposition to Turkish membership and his categorical statements on the issue, we should seek to persuade him to temper his post-election rhetoric, allow accession negotiations to proceed, and at least not close the door dramatically and completely at this time. Ambassador Ware and PolChief met with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn July 19 on the margins of the "Finland Arena," a gathering of Finnish political leaders that takes place annually on the margins of the world famous Pori Jazz Festival.
MANAGING TURKEY. . .AND MANAGING SARKOZY Rehn suggested that Turkey's July 22 election could have an "unpredictable" effect on Turkey's troubled EU accession process. The AKP remains the best bet for keeping reforms on track, and one-party governments -- as opposed to coalitions -- tend to have the best record, both on reform and in managing domestic expectations. One troubling aspect, he added, is that the rapidly growing youth vote in Turkey is divided, and there are no clear leaders emerging.
¶4. (C) Turning to the EU's role, Rehn emphasized that the Council-approved policies currently in place regarding Turkey's accession process will not change -- despite clear messages from President Sarkozy suggesting otherwise. That said, Sarkozy promised the French electorate he would seek to slow or even halt Turkey's bid, and "one should not underestimate his determination" to deliver on them. Rehn outlined one possible solution: The EU may ultimately need to draft new conclusions that allow Sarkozy to say to the French public, "I've introduced 'privileged partnership' to the EU discussion." At the same time, those conclusion's "fine print" would have to include language that allows the Turks to say that if they stay on track, they still have some control over their long term EU prospects. "It's not very elegant," Rehn smiled, "but that's how the EU works."
On April 26 EUR/PDAS Charlie Ries met in Brussels with EU Commission Enlargement Director Matthias Ruete, who is responsible in the Commission for Turkey's accession bid. ...Ruete (strictly protect throughout) noted that the context of Turkey's accession bid was "evolving rapidly", with pressure growing in the European Parliament for a factual analysis of the costs and benefits of Turkish accession.
The key, said Ruete, was to move off an emotional debate on the subject and on to a discussion "why Turkey should join the EU." The political debate in Europe is not won. Ries mentioned that he was getting on a train to promote the Turkish case in the Netherlands on April 27; Ruete asked for a read-out of Ries' discussions in The Hague, which Ries promised to provide.
¶7. (C) Ruete asked that the US ensure that German opposition leader Angelika Merkel hear a clear message from the US on why she shouldn't oppose Turkish accession; Ries said he would make sure that Washington was aware of the need to do this. On France, Ruete said that "Chirac's party is making increasingly anti-Turkish comments" with the message that "Turkey's not ready" to join the EU. Ruete offered that this message might moderate after the EU parliamentary elections this summer.