First Europe, then Turkey, says Sarkozy
AFP photoFrance’s stance toward Ankara’s prospective EU membership has not changed despite the contrasting economic fortunes of the crisis-hit union and a dynamic Turkey, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said.
“You know, my reservations have not changed. Even if we raised these reservations, in the situation of crisis, I do not think it would ease the task of Europe,” Sarkozy said in an interview French daily Le Monde published yesterday.
“We just welcomed Croatia. The opening in Serbia is a perspective. First let’s unite the European family before asking questions about those outside of Europe,” Sarkozy said, reiterating his view that Turkey was not a European country.
“The European Union is primarily for the European continent. To my knowledge, our Turkish friends – [a] great power, great nation – are mainly in Asia Minor,” he said.
“I wish we had the best relations with Turkey, of course. In my mind, it has an important role to play in the world, a role of a bridge between East and West. Is it in its interest for this role as a bridge between the two sides to join one side? I think it would weaken the role,” Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy said the EU was now a “two-speed” alliance, but insisted Britain would not be forced out of the bloc’s single market. Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel fell out with Prime Minister David Cameron at least week’s EU summit when London refused to sign up to a pact imposing closer economic coordination between member states.
“We did everything, the chancellor and I, to allow the British to take part in the agreement. But there are now clearly two Europes,” Sarkozy said, Agence France-Presse reported. “One wants more solidarity between its members and more regulation. The other is attached only to the logic of the single market,” he said.
Asked whether Britain, which has refused to join the single currency and opposed last week’s fiscal pact, could still remain inside the EU single market, Sarkozy said: “We need Great Britain. We’d be greatly impoverished if we allowed its departure which, luckily, is not on the agenda.”
Meanwhile, the head of France’s financial regulator branded Cameron’s Conservatives “the stupidest” right-wing party in the world for pushing its leader into confrontation with Europe.
“It’s rare to see a European country truly refuse to reach a deal because of, to put it crudely, pressure from the finance lobby,” Jean-Pierre Jouyet, chairman of the AMF market regulator, told France Inter radio.
“For a long time we have thought the French right was the stupidest in the world,” he said. “I think, in this case, the British right has shown that it can be the stupidest, in that it has served not its national interest but purely the interests of high finance,” he added.
“I think that’s a shame because we need our British friends in Europe,” he said, adding that Cameron’s center-left predecessors, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, would not have made “the same mistake.”