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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05HELSINKI906 2005-08-16 12:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Helsinki
Cable title:  

FINLAND: SUPPORTING TURKEY'S EU ACCESSION PROCESS

Tags:   PREL TU FI RU EUN 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000906 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/ERA, EUR/NB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2015
TAGS: PREL TU FI RU EUN
SUBJECT: FINLAND: SUPPORTING TURKEY'S EU ACCESSION PROCESS

REF: SECSTATE 150087

Classified By: POLOFF DAVID ALLEN SCHLAEFER FOR REASONS
1.4 (B) and (D)



1. (C) The Government of Finland supports Turkish accession
to the EU and the start of accession talks in October.
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari chaired the EU
Independent Commission on Turkey exploring the question of
Turkish membership; the Commission published its report
earlier this year and recommended an early start to accession
talks. Ollie Rehn, the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement, is
a Finn and strongly supports early initiation of accession
talks. Both Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and
President Tarja Halonen are vocal supporters of Turkish
membership.



2. (C) Halonen addressed the issue as recently as August 11
when she said that critics who claim Turkey's Islamic roots
are problematic are "oversimplifying" the issue. Halonen
said that while Christian values are important in the EU,
Christianity "does not have a monopoly on democracy," and
that Turkey frequently has been considered a part of Europe
over the past several centuries. Vanhanen has said that
Turkish inclusion in the EU could play an important role in
improving relations between the West and the Islamic world,
and in stabilizing the general situation in the Middle-east.
Foreign Minister Tuomioja is also a supporter of Turkish EU
accession.



3. (C) Outside of the GoF, opinions on Turkish accession
are less sanguine. The opposition Conservative Party opposes
accession talks if the outcome is "predetermined," and on
August 15, the former Chairman of the Conservatives, Ville
Itala, wrote an op-ed in Finland's major newspaper (Helsingin
Sanomat) decrying Turkish accession as an example of the EU's
"Napoleonic megalomania" for expansion. Some Green Party
politicians have expressed serious reservations about
Turkey's human rights practices, particularly discrimination
toward and the abuse of women.



4. (C) Even within the governing Social Democrat
Party-Center Party coalition, many parliamentarians and
activists are less than enthusiastic about rapid movement
toward Turkish accession, especially with Germany's Angela
Merkel possibly poised to become Chancellor (and, presumably,
change Germany's stance in intra-EU deliberations). Some
strong Finnish supporters of the EU Constitution privately
blame the Turkish accession question for the failed referenda
in France and the Netherlands, and have opined that the EU
pushed the Turkish issue too fast and too soon for European
citizens. Opinion polls in Finland are mixed, and many Finns
seem to share at least a certain degree of skepticism about
Turkey joining the EU.



5. (C) Comment: Halonen and Vanhanen both personally
support Turkish accession, and the GoF's official position is
unlikely to change in the near term. Outside of senior
circles, however, "anti-accession" sentiment, or at least a
desire to slow the process down, has grown in some quarters.
Finland will probably continue to support Turkish membership
as long as the consensus to support it remains intact among
the major EU players, and possibly even if such consensus
frays; but if Germany changes its official position on
accession, or if the EU's "accession coalition" begins to
fall apart, the GoF is unlikely to be a leader on the issue
and try to keep accession on track. There is no down side to
approaching the GoF and expressing our concern over the
current situation and support for the October round of talks.
However, convincing Finland to be a leader within the EU on
the issue will be more difficult. Finland will largely
follow whatever the emerging consensus is in Brussels and
will steer clear of any significant intra-EU fight over
Turkey.
HYATT