Straw blames Berlin, Paris for EU deadlock

Straw blames Berlin, Paris for EU deadlock

Straw blames Berlin, Paris for EU deadlock

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Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw blamed the leaders of Germany and France, who are opposed to Turkey’s EU membership, for the deadlock in the country’s EU accession talks. 

Straw made these remarks while visiting Istanbul to prepare for the British-Turkish Silver Tongue Forum which will take place in October. Straw told the Hürriyet daily in an interview that there are two major barriers to Turkey’s EU accession process.

“One is that the Greek Cypriots are electing increasingly entrenched leaders. The second is that the new leaders of Germany and France, [Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [President Nicolas] Sarkozy are opposed to Turkey’s membership,” Straw said, adding that the second reason is working more strongly against Turkey’s EU membership bid. 

Straw offered an explanation for this, saying that his contributions to Turkey’s EU membership bid could have not be possible “without the support of then Foreign Ministers Joschka Fischer and Michel Barnier and their bosses [former French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder].” 

Straw also said Turkey’s membership would benefit the EU. “It can’t be in France’s or Germany’s long-term interest to keep Turkey outside the EU rather than inside. It is actually more in Europe’s interest than Turkey’s interest. Just like having Turkey in NATO,” he said. 

Despite these challenges, Straw said the Turkish government has been “very sensible to continue with negotiations,” promising the U.K.’s continued support for Turkey’s membership. 

“There is a historic empathy for Turkey in the U.K., partly because both countries are located at the edges of the continent,” Straw said. Speaking about the French government’s attitude to Turkey’s EU membership, Straw said there is no guarantee that it will change, even if François Hollande is elected as France’s new President, given that Turkey’s membership has become an issue in France. “So it will take some time and will require the high-level efforts of Turkey’s friends.”

Iran, Israel isolated in Arab Spring

Speaking on the topic of the Arab uprisings, Straw said that Iran and Israel have both become isolated as a result of the Arab Spring. “Israel has lost a lot because of its obvious support for oppressive regimes, especially [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” Straw said, adding that Israel had also supported Egypt’s overthrown regime. 

Straw said that Iran has also lost significant ground in the Arab world because of its support for oppressive regimes, especially in Syria. On the issue of the Iranian nuclear talks, Straw advised Iran “not to push their luck.” 

“I just hope that they will engage in sensible negotiations, because no one in the rest of the world wants to see any kind of military operation against Iran; there is no appetite for it whatsoever.”