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Western Press Review: Turkey Stands Spurned; Iraq Stands Intransigent

  • Don Hill



Prague, 15 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Turkey's long efforts to join the European Union seemed finally to have ended yesterday in exclusion. Iraq's long efforts to limit the intrusions of UN arms inspectors continue. Western press commentary examines both.

WASHINGTON POST: Turkey claims membership in Europe's most exclusive club is only just

Turkey's government and its public reacted angrily to the EU rejection, Washington Post correspondent Lee Hockstader commented from Ankara yesterday. He wrote: "Turkey, its European aspirations dashed once again by its wealthy Western neighbors, eschewed soul-searching and hand-wringing Saturday in favor of a collective national temper tantrum. 'Go to hell, Europe!' proclaimed an opinion column in the leading newspaper Hurriyet, after the European Union put 11 nations on track for EU membership but rejected Turkey. The headline seemed to capture the mood of the nation."

Hockstader wrote: "To many Turks these days, it does not matter that their country --Muslim, embattled, corrupt, military-dominated and saddled with high inflation-- does not much resemble the 15 prosperous nations of the EU. Rather, they point to their history, note that they are the EU's fourth-largest export market and say that membership in Europe's most exclusive club, which they have sought since 1963, is only just."

NEW YORK TIMES: Turkey appears to be counting on increased support from the United States

The New York Times' Stephan Kinzer openly raises the question of anti-Islam bias. In a news analysis today, he writes: "Turkey's decision to limit contacts with Europe's most important bloc came only days after Islamic leaders from around the world, meeting in Iran, voted to condemn Turkey for its military ties to Israel. By taking steps that risk alienating both European and Islamic nations, Turkey appeared to be counting on increased support from the United States, an old ally, and Israel, a new one. Yilmaz said Turkey did not fear being left with few friends."

Kinzer says: "The United States has been pressing the European Union to admit Turkey, which U.S. officials believe must remain a key strategic partner of the West. European leaders are reluctant, fearing the high cost of admitting such a large and turbulent nation as well as the number of Turks who might flood into their countries. Some have also wondered aloud if a Muslim country can be considered part of Europe."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: If the Turks are unwanted, they must be told openly why

In a commentary in today's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Tomas Avenarius dismisses talk of a strategy of EU-Turkey rapprochement, charging that the EU fears Turkey more on unstated economic grounds than on the stated human-rights objections or for reasons of religious bias. He calls for candor to replace euphemisms and puzzlement. Avenarius comments: "All that a strategy of rapprochement means is that the Turks are not to be allowed to join the EU. They would be a burden on EU coffers, their workers would flock to EU countries where there is already too little work. Apart from that, they are at loggerheads with the Greeks, who are already in the EU.

"If the Turks are unwanted, they must be told openly why. The EU states are not primarily concerned with Turkey's indisputable human- rights violations, for (such violations) should also disqualify Ankara as a NATO partner. Nor are EU politicians worried about a Muslim state, for a political and economic community such as the EU is not a religious community. No credible argument can be made on the basis of pretexts and verbal sleight of hand."

WASHINGTON POST: The main actors in the Iraq crisis seem about to reprise their roles

Iraq's confrontation with the United Nations didn't end when UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors returned last month to resume work; it only returned to the point at which it stood before the inspectors were evicted, John M. Goshko wrote yesterday in a Washington Post news analysis. Goshko wrote: "After causing the world to worry through most of November whether a military clash on the order of the 1991 Persian Gulf War was imminent, the main actors in the Iraq crisis seem about to reprise their roles, and again raise the possibility of an armed conflict."

He continued: "In the last episode, President Saddam Hussein's government rejected the right of U.N. inspectors to search for hidden weapons programs within Iraqi territory, forced the inspectors to leave the country, dared the United States to retaliate and, after the personal intercession of Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, reversed course and allowed the inspectors to return."

Goshko concluded: "But the net result of all that activity was to return the situation to its starting place on Oct. 30, when Saddam Hussein barred U.N. inspectors from entering 'presidential palaces' and other sites suspected of containing prohibited chemical and biological agents. (Yesterday and today), Richard Butler, the Australian diplomat who heads the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, meets in Baghdad with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He will be seeking a definitive answer about whether Iraq will give UNSCOM inspectors the unfettered access to the disputed sites called for in Security Council resolutions. The advance indications are that Butler will be rebuffed."

DIE WELT: "We want to finish the job," says Richard Butler

Commentator Manfred Rowold, writing today in the German newspaper Die Welt, profiles Richard Butler as a pleasant-appearing Australian who is academically prepared for his task and emotionally impatient with the games it involves. Rowald writes: "On Friday Butler returned to the Iraqi capital Baghdad for the first time since the row between the United Nations and Iraq over Iraq's expulsion of U.S. inspectors in Butler's team. Butler, a 55-year-old career diplomat often in the limelight, studied psychology, economics and constitutional law. Perhaps he feels that equips him particularly well to see through the Iraqis' game of hide-and-seek."

Rowold went on: "Despite his pleasant appearance, this game provokes clear signs of impatience from Butler and occasionally tempts him to pull off his diplomatic kid gloves. During recent weeks he was often heard to say, emphasizing each word individually, 'We want to finish the job.' "

NEW YORK TIMES: Americans should not be complacent about the dangers of germ warfare

Despite talk of games, the issues involved are deadly, The New York Times said yesterday in an editorial. The newspaper said: "Though the crisis over Iraq's biological weapons has eased for the moment, Americans should not be complacent about the dangers of germ warfare. The threat that a lethal bacterium or toxin might be used on the battlefield or in a terrorist attack is real. The United States, from the Pentagon to local police departments, is not yet adequately prepared to deal with the danger."

The Times said: "For aggression-minded countries or terrorists, biological weapons can seem an appealing way to offset America's overwhelming nuclear, conventional and economic power. No hostile country has yet perfected reliable means of delivering these weapons to the United States and known incidents of biological terrorism have been rare. Still, a determined country could launch a biological attack on its neighbors using missiles, artillery or aircraft mounted with spraying tanks. Terrorists could use trucks or aerosol canisters or target vulnerable food supplies. Washington and local governments across America still have much to learn about preventing or coping with such an attack."
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