Ankara Shows Its Hand
By CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
Added: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 23:00:00 UTC
The most underreported story of the month must surely be the announcement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that he no longer supports the accession of Turkey as a full member of the European Union. His reasoning was very simple and intelligible, and it has huge implications for the Barack Obama "make nice" school of diplomacy.
At a NATO summit in Strasbourg in the first week of April, it had been considered a formality that the alliance would vote to confirm Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark, as its new secretary-general. But very suddenly, the Turkish delegation threatened to veto the appointment. The grounds of Turkey's opposition were highly significant. Most important, they had to do with the publication of some cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. In spite of an organized campaign of violence and boycott against his country, and in spite of a demand by a delegation of ambassadors from supposedly "Islamic" states, Rasmussen consistently maintained that Danish law did not allow him to interfere with the Danish press. Years later, resentment at this position led Turkey—which is under its own constitution not an "Islamic" country—to use the occasion of a NATO meeting to try again to interfere with the internal affairs of a member state.
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