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The ghost of a constitution The ghost of a constitution
by Thanos Kalamidas
2006-10-17 10:49:13
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Six months ago, while the Finnish government was getting ready to take over the EU presidency, we often heard both the Finnish Prime Minister M. Vanhanen and the Finnish President T. Halonen emphasize in their speeches and interviews that the EU constitution is a main issue for the presidency. Now, just over two months before Germany takes over the presidency, the German chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized her will to make the constitution work.

After the French and the Dutch negative reaction, this constitution looks like the ghost that haunts EU and comes out every so often to show that the EU still has issues to solve before moving on. Or is it the ghost that stops the EU from moving on? When it came to the French reaction everybody, including the French government, realized that the negative answer had nothing to do with the constitution itself, but with internal problems caused by a conservative government and its economic programme, unemployment and the enlargement prospect with Turkey joining in EU. Coming to Holland, the prospect of Turkey joining the EU became the first issue followed by the economy problems.

In both countries Turkey was the main common issue. Not the enlargement of the EU, since nobody seemed to react negatively to Bulgaria or Romania, furthermore to Serbia or Croatia, so long as the problem with the hunted generals from the civil war could be sorted out. Nearly half of Europe had already voted for the constitution before the issue came to France and Holland and most of the European countries had decided to take the vote into parliament instead of following the practice of a public referendum; obviously, they were worried that the same thing that happened in France and Holland would happen to them.

The German chancellor had put the EU's enlargement and, especially Turkey, as one of the main issues in her campaign - she got votes for that, since it turned out to be a main issue in many panels during the campaign. Naturally, after she had become chancellor and in a government with Social Democrats, supporters of the Turkish candidate, she had to lower her objections and, in the name of EU unity, she even had to meet the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. She had to wish him good luck with Turkey's efforts, but that didn't mean that she's ready to roll out the red carpet. Actually, nobody in Europe is ready to roll out the red carpet to Turkey, especially after the latest events.

So, the ghost of the constitution is back in action. Let's talk about it, let's think about it and let's make it the centre of our conversation for the next couple of years. That will give the chance to Turkey to do the necessary changes with foremost being the recognition of Cyprus. We can give them the time to change laws and constitution, and most importantly put the army, the shadow dictators of Turkey, back in their barracks.

All this will give time to Europe to think if they really want Turkey as an equal partner or just a huge market with which to deal under favourable rules. Of course, there is another situation but this is not so close: the separation of Turkey into a Kurdish state and a European state, which will make decisions for Europe much easier.

Until then, all the presidents of the EU in their programmatic statements they will announce their will to make the constitution to work.

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