kolmapäev, detsember 13, 2006

Sweden and Estonia Forge EU Partnership

Taking a break away from flag burning in Russia, let's discuss something that actually matters for the future, shall we?

I was asked recently on Radio Free Finland what Estonia's feelings toward the European Union were, and I basically said that Estonia's accession was very much in the interest of its largest economic and political partners, Finland and Sweden, which also have a considerable presence in Estonian media ownership.

Over the past few weeks though, two events have presented themselves of how Estonia will function within the EU, and I think they both point towards members of a Nordic voting block coordinated by Sweden - which seems to be the only northern European country, other than Estonia, that is constantly throwing out ideas in the European Union and hoping some of them stick.

For example, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and his Estonian counterpart Urmas Paet published an editorial in Die Welt aguing for closer ties between the EU and Turkey at a time when Germany and France appear hesitant to further engagement with Ankara:

The strategic decisions on enlargement to be taken by European leaders in the coming days are about the kind of Europe we want to create. Is it a static Union turned inwards focusing on its own integration capacity? Or is a Europe looking outwards to the rest of the world ready to take on global challenges and global competition? Does the EU see the merits in building a wider community of stable, prosperous democracies or will we keep our neighbours at arms length?

And apparently Bildt and Paet are continuing their united front on the Turkey issue:

At Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers, Sweden and Estonia reportedly signalled to fellow EU members that they were prepared to open up representative bureaus in Northern Cyprus, and begin offering direct flights to the northern part of the island.


At the 8 hour meeting of EU foreign ministers, South Cyprus met with a tough front after requesting that a higher number of Turkey's EU accession topics be shelved, and that Turkey be forced to open its air and sea ports unconditionally. Both Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt asserted that Turkey's new efforts on Cyprus should be taken into account, reminding fellow EU foreign ministers of the promises made to Turkey in 2004 that isolationary measures against Northern Cyprus would be lifted.

While Estonia is a small player on the international stage, its addition to the EU debate backs up Sweden's policies and gives its argument extra gravitas with talk of "the success of EU enlargement" in Estonia and Estonia's ability to reform based on the "opportunity of EU enlargement."

You can clearly see now why politically, as well as economically, the addition of Estonia to the EU has paid off for the Swedes.

8 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

I'm disappointed.
Turkey is occupying a member of the EU against the wishes of the majority of the natives. If anyone, it's Estonia that should condemn this.

plasma-jack ütles ...

OK.. just wanted to say that as an European citizen and a very strong supporter of European integration, I'm totally against acession of Turkey in nearer future. Truth is, they're not ready for it and neither is Europe.

I also think that Urmas Paet is hardly an etalon for a foreign policy expert, let alone a visioneer.

Giustino ütles ...

Turkey in the EU is an ambitious idea. But I think the union may not like the idea of having a border with Iraq. I mean wouldn't Iraq then fall under the EU "neighborhood" policy? Europeans spent enough time in countries like Syria and Iraq in the 1920s. I wouldn't like to see them repeat it.

Giustino ütles ...

Also, regarding enlargement, why is everyone in such a hurry to add a bunch of new states?

2004 was the largest enlargement EVER. Before that it was two or three states every decade or so.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I agree with anon -- Turkey is occupying a part of another country. How can a former victim of occupation justify that? What if in 1992 Ida-Virumaa had been occupied by Russia and a puppet set up? This is tantamount to appeasing the Trans-nistrian situation too. Shame on these people.

Sweden, after all, has a bad history of giving into occupation. Remember how Göran Persson had to apologise to Estonia and the other Baltics for its acknowledgement of the illegal annexation?

Estonia in World Media (Rus) ütles ...

This issue is controversial to me as well. I hope we can draw this picture as support to Turkey's accession, not support to Turkey in its anti-Cyprus.
However bad are some in the ruling Cyprus clique this is still EU Memberstate. It is too late to argue about issues like unification.

If Cyprus uses its veto power I would expect our liberals in charge of foreign policy to support it despite whatever arrangements they have with Turkey and Sweden. I can't imagine us helping to diminish political rights of small countries.

Anonüümne ütles ...

I think Cyprus needs to be sorted out before Turkey can get in and they need to bring their laws up to EU standards. But aside from that, remember that Turkey was part of the NATO bloc standing up to the Soviet threat for what, 50 years. You can't just dismiss loyal partners so casually. Furthermore, all the new members of NATO, the Balts included, needed Turkey, as a member of NATO, to vote yes to their entry, which it did, so for the Balts to turn around on the EU issue and veto Turkey would be a sign of bad faith. And finally, with Russia acting more and more belligerent with their energy supplies, you need a Turkey turned towards Europe rather than pissed off and turning to Russia or Central Asia to make new alliances. It would be a very bad situation if supplies of energy to the EU had to go thru a united Russia-Turkey bloc.

OK this is a simplistic view, but from what I've read, the last is a major strategic consideration the leaders have had in mind when thinking about Turkey.

For what it's worth, I think the leaders of the Accession-8 countries should be commended for not going down the petty, "Now we finally made it into the EU, screw you Jack, you're not coming in" route. They seem to be open to the idea of further expansion.

plasma-jack ütles ...

"Now we finally made it into the EU, screw you Jack, you're not coming in"

this is certainly not the point. but the whole world can not access EU at the same moment! After Romania and Bulgaria would be logical to add Croatia. even that means a lot of work - a lot. from their part and from European part.
Turkey can join us int the future IF Turkey stays on democratic course (face it, they're not democratic in European sense, not a lot more than Russia) and WHEN Europe is able to swallow a country this big.