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Cablegate: Finland: Support for Turkish Accession to the Eu

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HELSINKI 001406

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM TU FI EUN
SUBJECT: FINLAND: SUPPORT FOR TURKISH ACCESSION TO THE EU


1. (U) Several Finnish officials and opinion makers have
recently expressed support at a variety of fora for eventual
Turkish accession to the EU. Such statements mark Finland as
being among those who support a positive decision as regards
the Turkish question later this year. Olli Rehn, the new
Finnish EU Commissioner for Enlargement, has publicly warned
opponents of Turkish accession that as the historic decision
is debated, Turkey's application should not be "pre-judged"
but considered on its merits and with the best interests of
both Turkey and Europe in mind. The Finnish Government
clearly supports Rehn's attitude. The three most notable
examples of Finland's proactive policy on Turkey were a
statement by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja at an October 13
"Turkey and the Borders of Europe Seminar," and the remarks
of Liisa Jaakonsaari, the chair of Finland's Parliamentary
Foreign Affairs Committee, and former President Martti
Ahtisaari at a Helsinki briefing about the Independent
Commission on Turkey's just-released report.

Support from the Foreign Minister
---------------------------------
2. (U) Speaking at the aforementioned seminar, Tuomioja
welcomed the Committee's report and stated Finnish support
for Turkish accession. The foreign minister noted that
Turkey had made substantial progress in all outstanding areas
such as human rights, civil-military relations, and the rule
of law. He specifically noted progress on issues like
capital punishment, gender equality, and the supremacy of
international agreements. Tuomioja acknowledged that
challenges remained. He said that the continued use of
torture, violence against women, and concerns over freedom of
expression remained real problems that Turkey would have to
overcome as it prepared for accession. However, he expressed
confidence that the Turks would meet these challenges and be
ready within a decade to join the EU. Countering claims that
Turkey's Islamic culture is incompatible with European
culture, Tuomioja bluntly said that "Turkey is part of
Europe. Finns share a common identity with the Turks. Our
common values, not borders, should be at the center of
discussion."

An Historic Moment is at Hand
-----------------------------
3. (U) Speaking before Finland's Parliament and leading
politicians and ministry officials on Oct. 20, Jaakonsaari
opined that whatever the price of EU enlargement, it was
small in comparison with the costs of not bringing Turkey
into the EU. Jaakonsaari emphasized the importance of Turkey
in building bridges to the Muslim world. She said that the
process of enlargement and integration might be a long one,
but that it must continue. Jaakonsaari recognized that
Turkey must fulfill its obligation to continue to reform its
human rights practices, and that there could be no question
of a "double-standard" for human rights within Turkey as
opposed to the rest of the EU. However, she believed recent
progress would continue. Jaakonsaari said that Turkey's
legislative preparation had been "excellent," and while the
implementation of this legislation had not always run
smoothly so far, she was optimistic about the future. She
opined that for the EU and Turkey, there could be "no turning
back."

4. (U) Following Jaakonsaari's remarks, the head of the
EU's Independent Commission on Turkey, former Finnish
President Martti Ahtisaari, spoke. Ahtisaari said that
Turkey was a part of Europe and always had been. He noted
that Turkey was a part of the OSCE, NATO, and virtually every
other trans-atlantic organization in some capacity. He
highlighted Turkey's strong economic performance in recent
years, and cited a long list of successful Turkish human
rights reforms, including abolition of the death penalty,
reform of language laws, increased guarantees on religious
freedom, and significant improvements on gender equality and
the treatment of women in Turkish society. Ahtisaari said
that while many of his interlocutors around Europe suggested
that a 20-year timeframe for Turkish accession was necessary,
he cautioned against setting artificial, temporal mileposts.
What was important at this stage was to set an initial date
for talks to begin in good faith.

5. (U) Pursuant to the "good faith" reference, Ahtisaari
directly criticized opponents of EU enlargement who, he
asserted, tried to "set the bar higher" for Turkey because it
was a Muslim nation. Admonishing his audience not to "mix
religion and politics," Ahtisaari said that while the Turks
should not receive special treatment, they should neither be
discriminated against. Obliquely addressing German CDU
leader Angela Merkel, he said that those who suggest some
sort of "special relationship" for Turkey short of EU
membership humiliated the Turks, and likened the idea to
offering an adulterous relationship rather than marriage.
Ahtisaari said that fears of European "Islamicization" were
groundless, and overlooked 80 years of progressive
secularization in Turkey as well as internal EU estimates
that as many as 70 million new workers will be needed in the
EU by 2050 if Europeans are to maintain their current
standard of living. Finally, Ahtisaari opined that in the
end, the best prophylactic against Islamic fundamentalism in
Turkey or elsewhere was inclusion of Turkey in the European
polity rather than exclusion and separateness: "An historic
moment is at hand; the most important moment in the modern
history of Europe."
MACK

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