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A Rehn-shaped banana skin
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-11-12 09:12:47
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Reaching the end of the Finnish EU presidency, we have to say that Finland did a good job and, in typically Finnish fashion, they did everything very quietly and effectively. We all admitted eight months ago that there were no great expectations from Finland for their six month turn. A small country on the edge of the continent, no corruption, strong new-technology industry, good education system fighting weather and unemployment - it was going to be a break after the recent storms.

Finland, from her side, kept a low profile; no big announcements, everybody running in the middle of the term, no high expectations, quietly saying that they will try to do something about the euro-constitution, help in some commercial transactions and lessen bureaucracy into EU and, finally, try to do something about the coming expansion. And they did perfectly alright.

Actually, they did so well that instead of this period being remembered as a break, it should be remembered as a very successful presidency among a series of problematic presidencies and it would be perfect if there hadn’t been one Finn to spoils it casting a dark shadow: the Commissar of EU expansion Mr. Olli Rehn, but you cannot blame Finland for that.

Finland and her government did brilliant work. First of all, they returned the euro-constitution to the table and, without any fanfares, pushed all the leaders into an agreement that, with some changes, they will try again to get the positive vote and start working with it. The euro-constitution is rather critical for many reasons and, in a few cases, is of special interest to Finland, especially regarding the euro-army. Finland is one of the very few European countries that is not a NATO member and this discussion has arisen often, so the euro-army would be an answer to all the NATO skeptics.

The next thing the Finnish government pushed into agreement was the decline of the number of legislations. They had started already by declining the number of the ones already voted, which was a huge hurdle over a major bureaucracy problem from which the EU suffers. This was followed by a primary conversation over the budget and the necessary help needed for unemployment and agriculture funds. Add to that the forming of the new security policy and that they stabilized a relationship with the Arab countries that had been facing an ongoing crisis for the last two years - things look pretty good.

And then came along Mr. Rehn. He decided that he’s able to find a solution in one weekend, where three UN General Secretaries, a number of American presidents and European prime ministers have failed.

The relationship between Turkey and EU reminds me of a bad matchmaking. The girl’s family wants to get rid of her and the groom, despite the good dowry, doesn’t want her because she’s so damn ugly. In this case, Europe is the groom, Turkey is the bride and the USA is her family. If that was not enough, the ugly bitch has been beating the groom’s little sister for the last thirty years…she's called Cyprus.

Turkey does something that is not logical anyway you look at it. Even though they are a candidate country that has signed the agreement of Ankara, which demands from all member and candidate countries to open ports to all member countries, doesn’t want to do so because they don’t recognize a full member of the EU; a full member with the right to veto her membership. So, there is a major difference between the EU and Turkey. The logic says that you invite Turkey and tell them that they have to sign or they are out. Simple as that!

Since this is politics and you want to give everybody a chance, you decide to invite Cyprus as well, with the hope that they will both decide to take some steps backwards. Turkey says now, 'Since we don’t recognize Cyprus we would like to have Greece joining this big dinner.' Of course, Greece answers, 'You must be joking, this is your problem and has nothing to do with me. Cyprus is an independent country member of the UN and recognized by every single country in this world…minus a couple! So…find a solution. I have no business there.' That was the correct answer and in said in the politest way.

Now, Mr. Rehn is looking who to blame! Since stupidity is the only thing we have in overproduction in this world he can blame himself, but I have some serious questions. Doesn’t the man have any advisors? Why did the Finnish government let him fall on purpose? Has the Finnish government had enough of Mr. Rehn and are trying to find ways to show him the way out?

However, obviously Turkey’s candidacy is in danger. Nobody knows how far into the future they will have to wait, but if everything goes fine from now on - with Mr. Rehn keeping his ideas to himself and his memoirs - the Finnish presidency will be remembered as one of the best for a long time.

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Asa2006-11-12 10:29:45
That was particularly optimistic of you Thanos. I was expecting some small dig at Finland's presidency but you were very magnanimous.

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