Saturday, December 14 2002 @ 10:24 PM MSK
|COPENHAGEN, Denmark--The EU flexed its muscles Friday at its summit here, dismissing American pressure to speed up the admission of Turkey as unwarranted interference.|
President Bush was given a taste of the EU's newfound confidence as a future colossus of 25 states, led by a revived Franco-German axis, when he was told accession talks with Turkey were entirely "a European decision."
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark's prime minister, told Bush caustically that Washington had failed to grasp the meaning of EU membership, which involves sharing a lawmaking parliament, a currency and a supreme court in a close-knit union.
He asked: "If you are so keen on us letting the Turks into the EU, why don't you let Mexico into the United States?" Bush deflected the rebuke by laughing, Danish sources said.
Several EU leaders, including Jacques Chirac, the French president, delivered tirades against the Americans at the summit dinner Thursday night.
The common refrain was that Washington was trying to force the pace for its own purposes, chiefly to secure Turkey's vital air bases for the war against Iraq but also because it stands to gain from any weakening of Europe's cohesion as a political bloc.
But there was even greater irritation with the "hardball" tactics of the Turks themselves, who said refusal to offer an early date for accession would be taken as evidence throughout the Muslim world that the EU was a racist Christian club.
Venting his fury at the dinner, Chirac accused the Turks of blackmail, adding: "It's not enough to respect EU law. You have to be polite and civilized."
The leaked remarks prompted an angry riposte by Abdullah Gul, the Turkish prime minister who attacked the French for delaying the start of accession talks until December 2004.
"The real blackmail is what Chirac has done," he said.