Prague, 19 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - The fallout from the EU summit in Amsterdam again dominates commentary in the Euro-Atlantic press today.
NEW YORK TIMES: putting off the difficult questions of expansion
Craig R. Whitney writing from Amsterdam in the New York Times comments that "in effect, European leaders said the euro would go ahead but put off by six months to a year the more difficult decisions on which countries could join. The euro, power-sharing arrangements and the Amsterdam Treaty itself are all means to an end, one that has been lost sight of in all the wrangling here. That is the strengthening of the European Union on foundations of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental economic and political liberties in time to welcome the Central and Eastern European countries so long denied those advantages by communism. But with turmoil over the euro continuing, and western members of the club still quarreling about bylaws and dues assessments, the day when that welcome will be extended seems more distant today than it did in 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed."
WALL STREET JOURNAL: expansion took back seat to common currency
Brian Coleman commenting in the Wall Street Journal Europe says the biggest setback of the Amsterdam summit was the complete inability of the leaders to agree on a new balance of power between large and small member states... Such a change was seen as the number one priority for the constitutional review process, which began 15 months ago with the goal of preparing the EU to admit up to 12 new member states." Coleman says "in the end, the leaders decided to postpone the issue until they agree to admit the first new members from Central and Eastern Europe. That means holding yet another constitutional review with yet another round of negotiations... In fact the summit showed that the EU member states are concentrating their efforts on the drive toward launching a common currency in 1999."
FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: who's afraid of the 'euro'
The euro is the subject of a humorous commentary, redolent of nationalist rivalry, in today's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The paper says France is not afraid of the euro, unlike Germany, where a "fundamental fear of the threatening new currency" exists. The reason, the daily speculates, is that while the Germans are convinced that the euro will never be as strong as the deutschmark, the French are convinced that the "Germans and their brutal monetary policy are to blame for our franc being so weak." The paper concludes "the French are no economists, but politicians. They think tactically, and for the tacticians, the weakening of one's opponent is a good thing. France's dream is not a strong franc -- they think they already have that -- but rather a weak Deutschmark. And this dream", the Frankfurter Allgemeine concludes, "should finally come true with the introduction of the Euro."
LONDON'S FINANCIAL TIMES: no enlargement without monetary union
An analysis by Lionel Barber in London's Financial Times links enlargement and the euro, commenting that "Mr. Kohl has made clear he favors three candidates only in the first wave of entrants (to the EU): the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Others, including France, are wary of anything that smacks of Grossdeutschland. Hence the... message from Amsterdam: no enlargement without monetary union."
THE GUARDIAN: the last mammoth bazaar-style bargaining summit?
The Guardian's John Palmer comments "to invite four or five new members from eastern Europe and the Mediterranean into an unreformed EU would be to invite decision-making paralysis. It may be that the days of the mammoth bazaar-style bargaining summits, with their attendant army of diplomats, officials and media are almost over. At times, the Amsterdam summit threatened to collapse into sheer chaos as presidents and prime ministers tried to keep track of a succession of ever more complicated draft declarations..."
LONDON INDEPENDENT: the end of "Kohlism"
An editorial in the London Independent asks "so what, after Amsterdam is the nature of the game? It starts to look like the re-discovery of diversity, or, to put that another way, the end of Kohlism." The Independents says "the Kohl project was meant to lead not just to economic and monetary union, but also to closer political integration. History will surely say of that project, tinged as it has been with noble aspirations and a desperate desire to kill forever the conditions that led to the Nazis' rampage through Europe, that it chose an odd means to realize itself; a single currency relying on deflation and mechanical delivery of the same stance on government spending and borrowing."
EL PAIS: summit showed Europe is not ready for integration
Spain's El Pais comments that "Europe as shown it is not yet ripe for a jump forward on the path to integration. The mistake was that from the very beginning there was n-o desire to reform the Maastricht agreements at a time when all the energies were being concentrated on introducing the euro. If the summit in Amsterdam was supposed to result in a stronger integration, bring more democracy and prepare the EU for further expansion, it has not achieved any of its goals. In order to admit new members, the EU needs deep-reaching internal changes above all a reweighting of the votes in the council of ministers."
NEUE ZUERCHER ZEITUNG: embyonic results from Amsterdam
Similarly, Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung comments that, measured in comparison with the draft proposals, "the Treaty of Amsterdam is certainly no great work. The common foreign and security policy remains in an embryonic condition and the build up of the West European Union (WEU) in the EU remains a distant goal."
LES DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE: this summit failed
The regional French daily Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace" from Strasbourg comments that "one can resort to all sorts of cosmetic attempts, from the mildest words to sticking both hands in the make-up jar to try to cover-up the damage, but this summit failed." The paper also says: "it is no accident that Amsterdam reflects the German-French disunity." It places much of the blame on France and concludes that "these differences run deep, on the other side of the Rhine they have stopped asking questions about France's intentions."
Shake-up In Turkey
Yesterday's resignation of Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, the first head of an Islamic party to lead Turkey, is also a subject of widespread editorial comment.
NEW YORK TIMES: undemocratic defense of Turkey's democracy
Stephen Kinzer writing in the New York Times says the military's campaign against Erbakan "provided Turks with the spectacle of a powerful institution claiming to be so committed to defending democracy that it uses means that in many countries would be considered undemocratic." He notes that "the military commanders were suspicious of the government from the moment it was sworn in 50 weeks ago."
LE FIGARO: Turkey would be less open to militism if inside the EU
The conservative Paris daily Le Figaro says "fewer Turks would want a return to Islam if the EU were more generous toward Turkey's long-standing candidacy. A Dutch official was heard to say that Turkey will never be allowed in since the Fifteen is a Christian club." Le Figaro says: "this also goes for the US, which considers Turkey particularly important as a bulwark on the border of the unstable Mideast. Ankara accuses the White House of not treating it on an equal basis with Athens: Bill Clinton is too sensitive to the arguments of his numerous voters of Greek heritage."
HANDELSBLATT:the west has a double standard for Turkey
A commentary by Ewald Stein in Germany's business daily Handelsblatt criticizes western security leaders for setting a double standard in their dealings with Turkey by placing their trust in the country's generals to ensure that this NATO-member state does not drift into the feared Islamic camp.
Stein says: "until the end of the Cold War, Turkey was viewed as a strategically important borderland on the frontier with the ex-Soviet Union having essential strategic significance, though at any rate it was on the fringe. Today, as the alliance continues to search for a new identity, talk of NATO being a community of shared values is one everyone's lips. But in connection with Turkey, it sounds hollow. Today, the country is perceived as a bridge to Central Asia, a bridge that must remain capable of bearing heavy loads -- including a customs union with the EU."