Kathimerini, Greece
Oct 1 2005

An EU stretched too far
By Petros Papaconstantinou

The looming collapse of Turkey's EU talks before they have even
started confirms that, for European governments, Ankara's refusal to
recognize Cyprus was merely a pretext used to revise their
wrongheaded strategy. Vienna is once again halting the Sultan at the
gates of Europe - a role that Athens and Nicosia could not afford to
play. But the loose-tongued Austrians do not speak only for
themselves. The recent setback in the European Parliament and French
calls for a `clearly controlled' application process for Turkey
indicate the change of mood.

For how can one explain the shift of big states which - after
pressuring Athens for years to lift its Turkey veto - have now, at
the 11th hour, unearthed the problem of Cyprus, the Kurdish issue,
the Armenian killings, even the cases of torture in Turkey's
psychiatric clinics. In Turkish eyes, that can only be a sign of
growing reluctance to let Ankara hop on the EU train.

What the expanding alliance of Turkey-skeptics fail to see is that
the rushed expansion of the bloc was a blunder of mammoth
proportions. Enlargement was decided in the wake of German
reunification as Berlin reckoned that its unmatched economic leverage
would turn the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe into
satellites. Britain wanted the same thing for different reasons.
Eastward enlargement, it was believed, would put European plans for
political and military emancipation from the US on the back burner
and take the dismantling of Europe's social state a step further.

In the end, it was London, not Berlin, who smiled. In this context,
the clamor over Turkish membership has catapulted onto center stage
the concerns over Europe's geographical stretch, which threatens to
unravel its social and political cohesion.