Focus on enlargement and foreign policies of French Presidency

Center for European Studies / Middle East Technical University
Enlargement and Turkey’s accession
In the Turkish media, Turkey’s general evaluation of the achievements, failures or weaknesses of the French Presidency, is covered under two main headings. First, the French Presidency is evaluated in terms of its enlargement policies with specific emphasis on Turkey’s ongoing accession negotiations process. The opening of two chapters, ‘free movement of capital’ and ‘information society and media’, is welcomed despite the country’s reservations for Turkey’s full membership.[1] It is agreed that France’s policies attempted to reflect the EU’s general attitude on enlargement. Yet, the Irish ‘No’ to Lisbon Treaty, the Georgian war and the global financial crisis are considered as critical events that might have shifted the priorities in France’s policy agenda concerning the enlargement process. Several civil society groups also criticised the European Council meeting decisions of 11/12 December 2008 as proposing very limited solutions in terms of the prospects of enlargement and Turkey-EU relations.
Foreign policy and financial crisis
Second, the period of France’s EU-presidency is evaluated in terms of its foreign policies, including the measures it has proposed to solve the financial crisis, the Georgian war, and the environmental problems. A relatively positive attitude was formed with regard to Sarkozy’s efforts to resolve the conflict between Georgia and Russia.[2] Additionally, the alternative policy options the presidency has developed to solve the Lisbon Treaty impasse created by the Irish negative vote in the referendum were also discussed. In this regard, the last European Council meeting held under the French Presidency is evaluated positively in view of the achievement of a certain consensus between the EU leaders on policies towards overcoming the financial crisis, environmental measures, the Georgian war and the Lisbon Treaty. On these issues, the media in Turkey have mostly covered the general evaluations of the French Presidency period in the EU countries.[3]
Expectations from the Czech Presidency
The main expectations of Turkey for the main priorities of the Czech Presidency, which is approached as supporting the Turkish accession, centre on the momentum of the accession negotiations process. Turkish Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, declared “we believe our accession process will be further advanced during the Czech Presidency.”[4] However, expectations from the Czech Presidency period remains limited in view of the fact that only two chapters of the accession negotiations are usually opened during each EU-presidency because of some member states’ oppositions.[5] Additionally, due to the difficulties arising from the international economic and political conjunctures added to the fact that it is the first experience of the Czech Republic, the expectations in terms of fostering Turkey-EU relations remain limited. Two chapters that are ‘taxation’ and ‘social policy and employment’ are expected to be opened in the first half of 2009. In terms of the policy priorities declared by the Czech Presidency, which are economy, energy and Europe in the world, several factors are underlined in the media to be taken under consideration by Turkish policy makers. These are, the country’s close ties with the US government, the importance it attaches to the Eastern Partnership (that is, fostering relations with Eastern EU neighbours such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Belarus), and the fact that the country is not in the Eurozone. Additionally, the Czech Presidency’s statement on the importance of Turkey as the strategic partner of the EU is emphasized. The Turkish media and civil society organisations have informed the public about the general priorities of the Czech Presidency including the general expectations in the EU member states about the Czech EU-Presidency.[6] As in the case of the French Presidency period, general evaluations in the EU member states on the programme’s prospects and challenges, and expectations from the Czech Presidency are widely covered in the Turkish media.

[1] Hürriyet: ‘Door to EU left slightly ajar’, 12 December 2008, available at: . (last access: 25 January 2009).

[2] Sami Kohen: ‘Farklı bir Sarkozy’, Milliyet, 17 December 2008.

[3] TRT.Haber: ‘Sarkozy AB için ne yaptı?’, 18 December 2008, available at: (last access: 25 January 2009).

[4] Hürriyet: ‘Door to EU left slightly ajar’, 12 December 2008, available at: (last access: 25 January 2009); The journal of Turkish Weekly: ‘Czech President Refreshed the Hopes in Ankara’, available at: (last access: 25 January 2009).

[5] ‘AB Dönem Başkanlığı Çek Cumhuriyeti’ne geçti’, 1 January 2009, available at: CNNTurk: ‘”AB”de başkanlık bu gece Çeklere geçiyor’, 31 December 2008, available at: .

[6] See: (last access: 25 January 2009).