Earlier in the week Doug Muir posted on the generally negative attitude most Austrians seem to have towards EU enlargement. Others in comments have been suggesting that it is important not to go soft on human rights issues in the case of Turkey’s application. Well……
According to the French newspaper Le Figaro (as reported in EUPolitix) “Croatia forms part of the total bargaining on Turkey.” (that’s a quote from an anonymous diplomat btw).
Essentially the Austrian government is opposed to Turkey’s entry but is a relatively strong backer of Croatia, so, to cite our diplomat again: “The Austrians will calm themselves if offered the opening of the negotiations with Croatia,”. And this notwithstanding the fact that Croatia’s application is currently on hold due to continuing issues over its cooperation with the Hague war crimes tribunal.
To be clear I don’t think we should soften our stand on human rights in the Turkey case, I do think Turkey recognising Cyprus should be a condition for accession to the EU (maybe it should have been a condition for opening negotiations, but it was’t, and I don’t think you can close the gate after the horse has bolted) and I don’t think the requirement that the Croatian government coperate with the war crimes tribunal should be dropped just to get the Austrian government to agree to open negotiations with Turkey.
Doug was understandably cynical about the Austrian posture on Croatia in his post: “Sentimentality for the old Habsburg connection; or, perhaps, the fact that Austria has a lot of money invested in Croatia, and no other cheap beaches within reach”. And on the failure to agree the French/Uk compromise deal on Cyprus, well Austrian opposition could be part of the explanation, but maybe people are also waiting to see just what does happen in Germany on Sunday.
Update: Following up on my, what’s going to happen on Sunday point, Euractiv has a dossier on Germany elections: implications for EU policymaking which is well worth reading in its own right, but which does contain this interesting paragraph on Turkey:
“Concerning future enlargements of the EU, a new government is likely to stick to the agreements with Bulgaria and Romania and accept the state of negotiations with Turkey. However, it is commonly known that Mrs Merkel prefers a ‘privileged partnership’ with Turkey instead of a full membership. “The German line of a close partnership with Turkey is shared by a majority of member states and it will ultimately prevail,” said Heinz Kramer from the German Institute for International Policy and Security. “If the negotiations are to be started on 3 October, the prospects for a successful conclusion of the Turkish accession process are dire.”