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Greece denies report it will need third bailout September 14, 2012

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, France, Yunanistan.
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France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici (L) meets his Greek counterpart Yannis Stournaras (R) and Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Aris Messinis/Pool
  Greece‘s finance minister on Thursday denied a report citing the country’s representative to the IMF as saying Athens would need a third bailout package.

The euro weakened against the dollar on the report, which was later also denied by the official quoted in the article and came as international inspectors are mulling handing over the next tranche of Greece’s second aid package.

“The country’s positions are formulated by the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister,” Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told Reuters in response to the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal report.

The article quoted Thanos Catsambas, Alternate Executive Director at the IMF Executive Board representing Greece, as saying the country would need a third bailout from European creditors. It also reported Greece could not bridge a funding gap and had met only 22 percent of targets for the second bailout.

The euro fell to a session low of $1.2881, with traders citing the report of Greece needing a third bailout, and was last at $1.2898.

Catsambas issued a statement saying the article included “at least three important inaccuracies”.

“There was never a discussion or reference to a third bailout program, as the title of the article wrongly states,” he said.

He also denied that he had said the euro zone and European Central Bank (ECB) should fill Greece’s funding gap, as reported.

“I do not take any position regarding Greece’s euro zone partners. My statement was that the IMF has provided a four-year financing through the Extended Fund Facility and that at this juncture, no additional financing is envisaged,” he added.

Inspectors from the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission and ECB are in Athens to evaluate Greece’s progress on agreed targets before releasing the next, 32 billion euro ($41.30 billion), tranche from a 130 billion euro aid package.

IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said in Washington that talks were focused on making progress with the current bailout.

Cash-strapped Greece must come up with nearly 12 billion euros of extra cuts for the next two years to get the money, and it has fallen behind in reforms.

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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

American and European Union Foreign Policy Fails Macedonia October 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in America, EU, European Union, Macedonia.
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“I think that the stance on the name issue is well known. NATO was clear at the summit in Bucharest and at last year’s summit in Strasbourg and Kehl. The stances and the expectations are that Macedonia will receive an invitation for NATO membership as soon as name issue is solved. I hope that will happen soon,” stated US Ambassador Philip Reeker. On April 28, he said “The [name] issue must be solved, because if not, a question mark is put on Macedonia’s future.” He added,”The clock is ticking, it needs to be done right now, and we encourage both Macedonia and Greece to do this.”

The United States views itself as a leader in spreading democracy and human rights throughout the world. So how does it justify asking a country to change its own name?

In her address on September 8, 2010 marking Macedonia’s Independence Day, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “The United States is committed to promoting Macedonia’s membership in NATO and the European Union…”

However, this comes with the stipulation that Macedonia changes its name. The United States has already recognized Macedonia, yet it calls for a name change. The hypocrisy is astounding.

Western Europe is being handcuffed by Greece, yet it continues to support Greece in the ludicrous “name dispute”, while also bailing it out of its current economic collapse. Every NATO member-state supported Macedonia’s membership, yet Greece was permitted to veto it. Greece is being rewarded for its racist and xenophobic policies.

Every Macedonian government has continued the nonsensical name negotiations solely to satisfy American and Western European pressure to find a “compromise” with Greece. Instead of capitulating to countries that demand a change to Macedonia’s name and identity, the Macedonian government must immediately end the name negotiations and demand support from these countries.

129 countries, including 4/5 UN Security Council members, have recognized Macedonia. On Sept.24, 2010, Syria joined the growing list.

As MHRMI and AMHRC stated in our campaign demanding an end to name negotations, “We are winning. We have the power to end this. Stop negotiating our own name”.

According to former US Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, “The name dispute is unnecessary and unfounded, since Macedonia was called the same in the time of former Yugoslavia and this did not cause any problems then”. He added, “Is there anything more immature and more foolish than ‘blackmailing’ a nation by denying its membership in international organizations, which goal is to preserve the peace and protect their members from aggression of non-members.”

The first UN mediator for the name dispute, Robin O’Neil, said that “Macedonia must not and will not change its name in order to appease Greece. If Macedonia succumbs to pressures and changes its name, such events will only give more firepower to Greece until it reaches its final goal – Macedonia to vanish from the map.”

MHRMI and AMHRC call on Macedonians, in the Republic of Macedonia and abroad, to join our call for Macedonia to immediately cease name negotiations and demand international recognition.

Turkey goes cool on joining the European Union as it falls for the lure of the East July 11, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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As Europe’s top diplomat prepares to travel to Turkey, Colin Freeman finds a country not entirely convinced about their need to join the EU.

Turkish men make a nationalist gesture with their hands as they  chant anti-EU slogans during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkish men make a nationalist gesture with their hands as they chant anti-EU slogans during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey Photo: AP

Sipping a lunchtime latte amid the gleaming skyscrapers of Istanbul’s financial district, banker Mehmet Canayaz debated whether the European Union should admit Turkey. The prognosis, he admitted, was not good: a dynamic, forward-looking region would end up shackled to an economy with severe debt, financial instability, and an uncompetitive workforce. Best for Turkey, perhaps, to steer clear of the chaotic Brussels club altogether.

“If we don’t join, it will be Europe’s problem, not ours,” said Mr Canayaz, 25, who was relieved to be watching the recent Euro-zone crash from the outside rather than the inside.

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“If they do let us in one day, fine. But in coming years, it will be them that needs us, more than us needing them. Their economy isn’t as competitive as it once was.”

The issue of whether the EU should be allowed to join Turkey, rather than Turkey being allowed to join the EU, is not the way the Eurocrats of Brussels have often chosen to phrase it since the stalled membership talks formally began in 1987.

But when the EU’s Foreign Affairs High Representative, Baroness Ashton, arrives in Ankara for fresh accession talks this week, she may well find no shortage of Turks asking the same question the same way round as Mr Canayaz.

Fed up with being rebuffed by France and Germany, proud of their successful economy, and increasingly keen to court their fellow Muslim neighbours to the East, a growing number of Turkey’s 73 million citizens are now wondering whether EU membership is quite so important as it once seemed. While nearly three quarters of Turks supported the idea in 2004, some polls less than half doing so now.

Among those whom Baroness Ashton will meet on Tuesday is the man most closely associated with Turkey’s re-assessment of its outside interests, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu. A key figure in the AKP party, the moderate Islamist movement that has ruled Turkey for the last eight years, he is widely seen as the prime mover in his country’s cooling off towards the West.

Turkey’s fury with Israel over the shooting of nine Turkish activists on an aid ship to Gaza, and its controversial recent uranium deal with Iran, have both rung alarm bells in some western capitals – including Washington – over the country’s apparent tilt back to the east.

They are all part of what many describe as Mr Davutoglu’s “neo-Ottomanist” world view, seeking to recreate the days when Turks wielded clout from central Europe to the Persian Gulf. Critics fear that in courting far more radical Islamic governments, Turkey will reach a tipping point where it may turn its face away from Europe.

True, at a meeting in London last week with William Hague, Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Turkey’s answer to Henry Kissinger struck a more conciliatory note, insisting Ankara still wanted to join the EU.

But in a speech last month in Rize on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was less diplomatic. “I tell (European leaders) that if you are not a Christian club, you are obliged to accept Turkey,” he said, lamenting how the EU had admitted many decrepit former Communist bloc countries ahead of Turkey. “These countries are far behind, none of them comparable to Turkey.”

Certainly, it is hard to imagine finding any equivalent of Istanbul’s business district, the Levent, in Bulgaria or Romania.

A futuristic complex of steel, concrete and glass, it is like London’s Square Mile – only newer, cleaner and with a better dining climate for the many smart outdoor restaurants. For men like Mr Canayaz, it is a testament to Turkey’s economic success in the past decade, which has seen exports skyrocket both eastwards and westwards. Turkish specialities include cars, construction, cellphone networks and – appropriately for anyone nostalgic for the Ottoman empire – furniture.

It is not just modern Turkey that is thinking twice about EU membership, however.

In the alleys of the conservative, working-class Istanbul district of Fatih, where locals still prefer traditional Turkish coffee to Starbucks, attitudes to Europe are similarly indifferent.

“It is not necessary for us to be a member of the EU,” said Emine Erdem, 49, a hijab-clad mother waiting for evening prayers outside the local mosque. “For one thing, it will threaten our values – we will have to promote things like homosexuality. And besides, they are two-faced towards Islamic countries. They have allowed Bulgaria and Romania in, but not us, when we are much more developed”.

The economic progress that has undermined Turkey’s sense of urgency about joining the EU is closely associated with the success of the AKP, whose motto in English means “Justice and Development”.

Frequently likened to a Calvinist version of Islam, its followers combine religious observance with a Protestant-style work ethic: the cities in central Turkey that are the bedrock of its support are known as the “Anatolian Tigers” for their industrial success.

To their supporters in the outside world – Britain included – they embody precisely the kind of moderate, prosperous Islam that the rest of the Middle East might do well to follow. Hence Mr Hague’s re-iteration last week of Britain’s long-standing support for Turkish EU accession, and his pledge to press other European nations to drop their opposition.

“For the EU to turn its back on Turkey would be an immense strategic error,” he said.

Mr Hague’s comments echo fears voiced by America, whose Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, warned last month that Brussels’ dithering over Turkey’s membership could see it “drift” away from Europe and into closer partnerships with Western enemies like Iran.

That scenario likewise alarms pro-European Turks, who share the anger at the EU snub, but fear that throwing in their lot with their Muslim allies could embolden the AKP party to impose a more Islamic society.

“People in Britain may think this government is moderate and liberal, but they are not,” said Ayse Ozek Karasu, the editor of Haberturk newspaper. “There are cities here now where it is hard to buy alcohol, and where women feel pressurised to wear the headscarf. I feel that they have a secret agenda, which is not to be in the EU, but to be leaders of the Islamic world.”

Mr Hague, however, may struggle to persuade fellow Europeans to change their minds. Germany, which already has a large Turkish immigrant community, fears the arrival of millions more from Turkey’s still backward eastern regions.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, expresses his opposition on the more intractable grounds that Turkey is simply not part of Europe geographically.

There are also more widely-acknowledged obstacles, such the unresolved “frozen conflict” with Greece over the divided island of Cyprus, with Turkey refusing to allow Cypriot ships access to its ports. Opponents of Turkish membership also point out that were Ankara in the Eurozone already, it would have been unlikely to want to use its new found economic might to join May’s financial bail-out of Greece.

“The sentiment in Germany and France is certainly an obstacle, as is the Cyprus issue,” said a senior Brussels source briefed on Baroness Ashton’s pending visit. “But I think her message to the Turks will be simply ‘keep at it’. Governments change their attitudes over the years. After all, Britain was vetoed from joining Europe a couple of times as well.”

Just how much more patience she can expect from Turkey is another matter.

Talks are so far only open on 13 of the 35 policy areas, or “chapters”, that the EU requires to be legally fulfilled before membership can even be considered, and even if France and Germany were to mellow, nobody expects membership much prior to 2020.

It is a long time to wait – yet as Fadi Hakura, an expert on Turkish-EU relations, points out, pique at being blackballed by the “Christian Club” does not equate to wanting to be a paid-up member of the “Muslim Club”.

“The Turkish public is very pragmatic, and they will be wary of moving towards the East because they see its problems,” he said.

“For all the talk about that going in that direction, the country they would most like to become like is Germany.”

Turkish Should be One of the EU Official Languages May 31, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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The European Union (EU) has an understanding of fostering multilingualism. EU institutions encourage EU citizens to speak as many languages as they can, as well as make significant contributions to the languages of minorities within the Union. The same stance is seen when we take the official languages of the EU into consideration: The languages of the member countries are also included in official languages of the EU. In this respect, 23 languages (German, English, French, Italian, Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese, Spanish, Slovak, Slovenian, Romanian, Polish, Irish, Maltese, Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Swedish) are accepted as official languages of the EU. In addition, Catalan, Galician and Basque are semi-official languages of the Union.

Some of these languages are spoken by only a few hundred thousand people. For example, Maltese is a micro-language spoken by only 300,000 people, yet it is one of the official languages of the ‘enormous’ EU. Irish is known by just 300,000 people, but the number of people who really use this language daily is around 40,000. Only 1.1 million people speak Estonian etc.

To sum up, the EU gives significant importance to languages in Europe and accepts even the languages spoken by just a few hundred thousand people as official languages to be able to keep the diversity. Too much money, time and energy are consumed while translating all the legislation into these languages.

Within these circumstances, there is a big language disregarded by the EU: Turkish. Turkish is the official language of one of the EU members: the Republic of Cyprus. If you take a look at the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, it is written that the official languages of the state are Greek and Turkish. Greek and Turkish are side by side both on Cypriot money and the stamps. Do not misunderstand; I am not referring to the state founded in the north. I mean the south! One of official languages of the EU member Cyprus (Greek Cypriot Side) is still Turkish.

Turkish language is not only one of the two official languages of Cyprus, but also millions of EU citizens’ mother tongue. Millions of Bulgarian Turks, hundred thousands of Greek West Thrace Turks and almost 5 million Turks dispersed over Western Europe speak mostly in Turkish in their daily lives. Today the number of EU citizens whose mother tongue is Turkish and who speak Turkish in daily life exceeds 3 million people. Turkish is the thirteenth most spoken language in the EU countries.

In short, Turkish is not a language to be overlooked. So why does the EU exclude Turkish from its official languages in spite of all these realities? Why does the EU, which accepts Northern Cyprus as an EU territory by violating its own laws, and made the Greek Cypriot side an EU member despite all the objections and the rule of law, not accept the official language of a full member state as an official language of the EU? Is Brussels allergic not only to the religion of the Turks, but also to the language of the Turks?

It is obvious that according to the EU laws Turkish has to be accepted as one of the official languages of the EU. This is not matter of negotiations. If the EU is a law-institution, the EU authorities have no right to neglect Turkish language. In 2004 the Muslim people of the island were kept outside of the EU, while the Christian Cypriots were accepted as EU citizens. The Brussels should not follow such a racist way in accepting the Turkish language.