I Wish I Were In Paris

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

U.S. Attempts To Butt Into European Union's Business

Once again the United States has attempted to butt into someone else's business. This time it's the European Union's business that they're trying to butt into. I can't say that I'm surprised. They're constantly trying to butt into business that they have no business getting into.

Here's the story:

The United States today intervened in the row over Turkey's EU membership negotiations by questioning a key European demand.
Weeks ahead of an expected showdown between Turkey and the EU, Washington cast doubt on the EU's call for Ankara to open up its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels by the end of this year.

European leaders are expected next month to suspend parts of Turkey's EU membership negotiations if Ankara refuses to live up to its commitment to extend its EU customs union to Cyprus. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is refusing to act until the EU lifts its trade embargo of Turkish occupied northern Cyprus.

Washington, Turkey's staunchest ally which has long supported its EU membership bid, today offered some support for Ankara by questioning whether the EU had imposed a deadline. Matthew Bryza, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Europe, said that the EU has been clear in demanding that Turkey act on Cyprus, but he insisted that no clear deadline was ever set.

"It is a factual observation, not an analytical one, that the language of October 3 [2005, the day Turkey's membership talks were formally launched] was not specific about deadlines. The language is ambiguous and intentionally ambiguous so that the political process can take place [and] member states can take whatever decision they want."

Mr Bryza's remarks set him at odds with all sides in the EU, including allies of Turkey, who agree that some form of punishment will have to be imposed - possibly at next month's EU summit - if Turkey refuses to act on Cyprus. This is on the basis that the EU pledged to review the implementation of the Ankara protocol, Turkey's customs union with all 25 EU members, by the end of this year.

Britain, Turkey's biggest supporter in the EU, is hoping to limit the punishment by suspending a small number of the 35 "chapters" in the membership negotiations which are specifically related to Cyprus and the customs union. These could cover transport and the free movement of goods.

Mr Bryza called for the EU to agree on an even lighter touch. He would like the EU to continue negotiations on the 34 chapters still under discussion, but to refuse to conclude them until Turkey moves. "Maybe one option would be not closing rather than not opening [chapters]," he said.

Mr Bryza insisted that he was not intervening directly in the negotiations which are a matter entirely for the EU and Turkey. "We are willing to offer any assistance or we are willing to do nothing at all ... This is the EU stadium, we are not in the stadium. Maybe we can buy a ticket for the match."

He said it would be wrong for Washington to repeat its 2004 intervention - in the run up to the EU's announcement of a start date for the negotiations - when George Bush telephoned Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder to say why it was important to anchor Turkey in the west.

But Mr Bryza's carefully calibrated remarks will be seen as an important signal of support for Turkey at a delicate moment.

France, which is emerging as the key player in the negotiations, yesterday made clear that its patience is running out. Catherine Colonna, France's Europe minister, said that the European Commission should publish its recommendations for how Turkey should be punished soon. "We can't wait until the last moment to consider the conclusions," she said.

Paris, which is growing increasingly sceptical of Turkey's EU membership bid, is likely to act as a broker between Britain, which will want a limited punishment, and Cyprus which may call for the entire negotiations to be suspended.

Mr. Bryza told the EU what to do. However, then he turns around and says that he's not intervening. I'd certainly like to know what his definition of intervening is then. When you tell someone else what to do in business that doesn't involve you, that's intervening in a matter that's not your business. It's that simple!!

The United States needs to keep out of issues that don't concern them. Hopefully someone from the EU will tell them to butt the hell out of their business.


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