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UK PM: Turkey’s Case For EU Membership Stronger Than Ever April 9, 2011

Posted by Yilan in England, EU, European Union, Turkey, UK.
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U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that the case for Turkey’s membership in the European Union was “clearer than ever.”

In a joint news conference at Downing Street with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Cameron said he will continue to champion Turkey’s membership.

Cameron said Turkey’s entry into the EU would offer “increased economic prosperity, a bigger market for goods and services, more energy security, and real benefits for the EU’s long term stability.”

Turkey’s membership talks began in 2005.

-By Ainsley Thomson and Nicholas Winning, Dow Jones Newswires; 44 20 7842 9318; ainsley.thomson@dowjones.com

Cameron raises false hopes for Turkey’s EU bid August 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in England, EU, Turkey.
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On Wednesday, The Independent newspaper announced that “(David) Cameron uses Turkish visit to launch ferocious attack on Israel”. The Guardian reported that he “likened the experience of Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip to that of a ‘prison camp’.” Having just been to Washington, was the British Prime Minister doing a transmission job for US President Barack Obama?

Probably not. This missive about Israel is surely not the one that Obama really wants to transmit now. After all, he did learn something from Bibi Netanyahu’s journey to the White House; and what he learned was that the Palestinians aren’t exactly ready to negotiate with anyone . . . unless the outcome is settled in advance and gives them everything. I suspect that Cameron was freelancing on this one.

But I’m not sure that Cameron was working the Turkish street on his own in telling an Ankara audience that he was desperate for the European Union to take them in. For some inexplicable reason, Obama shares his enthusiasm and has since he spent three days in Turkey on his first presidential journey abroad.

Of course, this is not how the rest of Europe feels. In fact, much of Europe believes there is more than enough Islam in its body politic. Yes, some of this is racist politics. But the great groundswell is in the liberal and tolerant conservative traditions. The more Muslims in the society, the more reactionary the curbs on freedom will be: personal freedoms, community freedoms, intellectual freedoms. The more Muslims in the society, the more democratic values will be on the ropes.

The fact is that Turkish membership in the EU would be tantamount to European approval and support for the values of Turkish society. It once was that Turkey was in dissent from Islamic orthodoxies. This and its antagonism to the Soviet Union — or the antagonism of the Soviet Union to it — were credentials enough for membership in NATO, a membership it has held for half a century. But Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan today represents an altogether different constellation of philosophical values and strategic commitments.

He has made himself Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s emissary to the world. This is a shameful role for any political leader. As is his deputisation of himself to Hamas and the Syrian dictatorship.

At the core of Erdogan’s redeployment of his country on the map of contemporary politics lies his shift from being a pragmatic ally of Israel to being an eager comrade of virtually all the madmen of Islam.

This is of some significance to Israel. But it is more salient to the Western democracies, of which most important are the US and Britain, whose troops are fighting an almost unmapped battle in Afghanistan.

Roughly 1500 Turkish troops are also deployed against the Taliban and al-Qa’ida. This is emblematic of a two-faced policy, one descending, the other in the ascendancy. Turkey receives secret information from the Americans and the Brits. It also shares this with its Muslim allies, including elements among the Taliban and the intrinsically fissiparous officer corps in Pakistan.

Back to Turkey and the EU: Turkey will not be admitted to the union. Obama and Cameron are only magnifying the disappointment and the resentment of Erdogan. This disappointment and resentment will only feed the anger of the Islamist Turks and the country further into hands of the Muslim armed doctrine. Obama and Cameron are only raising false expectations. Why don’t they just shut up?

Andrew Feldman: The David Cameron aide with Macedonian connections February 8, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia.
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Andrew Feldman has been a David Cameron confidant for a quarter of a century.

While Mr Cameron headed to the Conservative Research Department after graduation, Mr Feldman went on to the Inns of Court School of Law and qualified as a barrister.

In 1995, aged 29, Mr Feldman was made chief executive of Jayroma, the family clothing business. He and his wife live near the Camerons in west London.

After Mr Feldman took control, Jayroma forged a partnership with Orka, a Macedonian company that made and sold clothes. It began supplying Jayroma. While Mr Cameron was being elected MP for Witney in 2001, Mr Feldman’s link with Orka — and Jordan Kamcev, its flamboyant owner — was strengthening.

In September 2003, Mr Feldman took Mr Cameron, then the shadow deputy Commons leader, on a trip to Skopje. Orka obtained tickets to the Macedonia-England football match for the pair, and paid their bill at the Aleksandar Palace hotel, where the England team was also staying.

Later it emerged that Mr Kamcev was under investigation for alleged tax fraud. He has subsequently been cleared.

By then Mr Feldman was managing finances for Mr Cameron’s successful campaign for the Conservative leadership. Jayroma gave £10,000.

He was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Leader’s Club, a controversial society where for £50,000, donors get access to Mr Cameron.

In 2008 Mr Feldman was promoted to chief executive of the Conservative Party, and widely tipped for a peerage under a Cameron government.

That August, Mr Feldman was with George Osborne in Corfu when a potential donation to the Tories from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian tycoon, was discussed. Donations from foreign nationals such as Deripaska are illegal.

Mr Feldman allegedly suggested that the tycoon could channel funds through his British company.

Thanks to the presence of the future chancellor of the exchequer, Mr Feldman’s involvement was largely forgotten in the ensuing storm.

It was a fortunate escape from the limelight for Mr Feldman, who impersonates Elvis Presley in his spare time. But his latest business venture may turn out to be a high-profile heartbreak hotel.

David Cameron aide wins government contract in state Tory leader backs for EU February 6, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Macedonia.
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One of David Cameron’s closest aides won a valuable government contract in Macedonia, the Balkan state that the Conservative leader has said should be invited to join the European Union.

 Andrew Feldman

Conservative Party fundraiser Andrew Feldman leaves his west London home

Andrew Feldman, the chief executive of the Conservative Party and a university friend of Mr Cameron, was in a consortium awarded a contract to build one of the country’s few five-star hotels.

Mr Feldman, who raises funds for the Tory leader, won the contract despite having no previous experience of building or running a hotel. He now stands to profit from the deal, which was signed in the summer of 2007.

The Conservatives denied that Mr Feldman had influenced party policy on Macedonia or been involved in a London meeting between Mr Cameron and its prime minister in November last year.

Mr Cameron has been one of the most vocal backers of Macedonia being allowed to join the EU and Nato. Within four months of the hotel deal being signed, Mr Cameron called on American politicians to back Macedonia in his first official visit to Washington.

Last November, Mr Cameron held a private meeting with the Macedonian prime minister – a key figure in the awarding of the hotel contract – at which he is understood to have pledged his support for the country’s membership of the international bodies. Joining the EU is worth billions of pounds to the small eastern European country.

Macedonian politicians have accused their government of corruptly awarding the valuable hotel contract — at below the initial price — to Mr Feldman. The deal was referred to the Macedonian “department for organised crime and corruption”.

Nikola Gruevski, the Macedonian prime minister, has been closely involved with the deal and was pictured with Mr Feldman at a ceremony to begin construction work on the property.

Mr Feldman introduced Mr Cameron to Mr Gruevski during a previous visit to Macedonia – a trip described as a “junket” by the Conservative leader. The trip was largely funded by Jordan “Orce” Kamcev, a controversial Macedonian playboy also linked to the hotel deal.

Mr Kamcev has faced criminal charges, some relating to alleged tax evasion, and his company has been accused of credit card fraud. Charges were dropped when Mr Gruevski was elected prime minister.

Slagjana Taseva, the president of the pressure group Transparency International’s Macedonian office, has claimed the Feldman hotel deal was against the government’s rules. “This was an illegal deal,” said Ms Taseva, a former government anti-corruption chief. “The firm awarded the contract did not fulfil the tender conditions. It should not have been allowed to participate in the bidding process, let alone make the deal. A complaint was made, but both the public prosecutor and the state anti-corruption agency, all politically appointed, rejected the allegations.”

Mr Feldman is chief executive of Jayroma, a clothing firm founded by his father. Jayroma is thought to be worth several million pounds and has previously donated money to the Conservative Party and Mr Cameron’s 2005 leadership campaign.

Mr Kamcev was previously one of Jayroma’s main suppliers, sending clothes from factories in Macedonia. The decision to sell a prime area of government-owned land in the centre of Skopje, the Macedonian capital, for an upmarket hotel was made within months of Mr Gruevski’s election in August 2006.

An advertisement for the tender was published in March 2007 in two Macedonian newspapers and the Financial Times. Any bidder had to operate at least 250 four or five-star hotels around the world and also had to have built a hotel. Very few companies could meet the criteria and nobody bid for the tender. It was then re-advertised in Macedonian papers – again to no avail. The government then entered exclusive negotiations with a partnership called HLH Macedonia. Macedonian politicians suspect that the deal was deliberately structured to ensure that HLH won the contract despite being apparently ineligible. HLH Macedonia was formed in July 2007 just days before the hotel contracts were signed. It was jointly owned by Mr Feldman’s firm, a small British hotel company and a Liechtenstein trust. The contact details for the consortium in Macedonia were office buildings owned by Mr Kamcev.

Jani Makraduli, the vice president of the Macedonian assembly, alleged the hotel deal was “corrupt”. The hotel is due to open early next year with 200 rooms and has been leased by the hotel firm which owns the Radisson brand. It is estimated to be worth up to £26million.

Mr Feldman flew straight from a ceremony that began work on the hotel, to join George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, on holiday in Corfu. It was during this holiday that the pair met the businessman Nat Rothschild and Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch.

The deal was investigated by the Macedonian Public Prosecution Office which concluded that government guidelines had been followed. However, it did find that the “basic conditions” of the tender had not been met.

Last night Mr Feldman said: “I utterly refute any allegations of impropriety by myself, Jayroma London Ltd or any other companies or individuals involved in this transaction.

“Jayroma London Ltd’s total investment was £450,000 and any profit it will make will be just a proportion of that. The Justice Department in Macedonia investigated and found absolutely no evidence of any impropriety.

“Neither Orce Kamcev nor Nikola Gruevski had any involvement with the bidding consortium. I have never at any point discussed anything to do with this transaction with anyone actively involved in the Conservative Party … I was unaware that any meeting with Mr Gruevski had taken place in 2009.”

A spokesman for Mr Cameron said: “It is long-standing Conservative Party policy that we support the enlargement of the EU to all the countries of the western Balkans, including the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Any suggestion that this position is somehow linked to Andrew Feldman’s business is as offensive as it is ridiculous.”