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Media Watch 2005

05 August 2005
Source: Kathimerini
Author: Costas Iordanidis
Comment: The following article appeared in Kathimerini of Athens on 5 August 2005.
France, Germany speak up on Cyprus

"French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin’s declaration — that the launch of Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union is “inconceivable” unless Ankara recognizes Cyprus — is an exceptionally interesting development, chiefly for Greece, but also because it heralds the emergence of a new balance of power in the European Commission.

The fact that Villepin’s statement was echoed by Friedbert Pflueger, foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Christian Democrats (CDU) — expected to take power in next month’s elections — is a sign that the Germans and French are regrouping in the face of aggressive tactics by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who they see as curbing their influence.

In fact, this was a deft move by Villepin, as he shook up the plans of the British EU presidency — which had intended to focus on fiscal concerns and changes to the Common Agricultural Policy — and imposed other issues on the agenda, such as the obligation by Turkey to recognize all members of the club it aspires to join. Villepin was evidently acting in accord with President Jacques Chirac, sidelining prospective challenger Nicolas Sarkozy, a champion of the Anglo-Saxon model; so conservative France is embracing Gaullism once again. Meanwhile, the stance of the CDU is understandable, as party chief Angela Merkel had made it clear she opposed Turkey’s full membership in the EU from the outset..."