- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

Honor promises

The Greek foreign minister yesterday warned European leaders who oppose Turkish membership in the European Union that they risk undermining the credibility of the organization that invited Turkey to join nine years ago.

“We must honor our promises and make sure our credibility remains unchallenged,” Dora Bakoyannis told guests of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Washington’s Capital Hilton Hotel.

She said Turkey must be admitted if it meets the membership criteria on democratic, legal and economic policies.

“Full compliance means full membership for Turkey,” Mrs. Bakoyannis said.

The EU recognized Turkey as a candidate for membership in 1999 and opened negotiations in 2005. However, some major countries like France and Germany have since raised objections.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy last year and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2005 campaigned against Turkish membership. Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic party advocates a “privileged partnership,” which would fall short of full membership.

Some opponents complain that Turkey, a Muslim nation of 70 million people, would alter the Christian complexion of the 27-member EU.

Others note that only 3 percent of Turkey is actually on the continent of Europe. About 9,000 square miles of Turkey west of the Bosphorus strait, while 300,000 square miles of Turkey is east of the waterway and in Asia.

However, Turkey also has strong institutional ties to Europe. It has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949 and was a founding member of both the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, established in Paris in 1961, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, established in 1973.

Mrs. Bakoyannis, who talked on transforming southeastern Europe through “smart power,” noted much progress in the region known as the Balkans but warned of growing tensions in some countries.

“Southeast Europe remains a fragile, post-conflict zone,” she said.

Mrs. Bakoyannis explained “smart power” as a combination of diplomacy and military strength.

“Smart power is more than brains. It also depends on the heart,” she said.

Reviewing the progress of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Mrs. Bakoyannis cited Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, a new EU member that holds the current rotating presidency, as examples of nations that have made significant democratic progress.

She said she continues to worry about Bosnia, where ethnic disputes are growing again, and Kosovo, the ethnic-Albanian province of Serbia that is demanding independence.

Envoy’s regrets

The U.S. ambassador to Japan yesterday bowed to governor of Okinawa and pledged justice for a Japanese teenager who, military prosecutors say, was raped by U.S. soldier.

“Every American in Japan today, whether they are in the military or civilian, wants the little girl and her family to know that we are thinking of her and hoping that she will soon recover from this traumatic experience,” Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer told Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima.

Military police on Monday arrested Staff Sgt. Tyrone Luther Hadnott, 38, and charged him with raping the girl. He admitted to kissing the girl but denied sexually assaulting her, according to press reports from Japan.

Mr. Schieffer later returned to Tokyo to meet with Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.

“I would like to express to you and the people of Japan that we sincerely regret this has happened,” Mr. Schieffer said.

The United States deploys more than 40,000 troops in Japan as part of a security treaty to defend the pacifist Asian ally.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.


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