Saturday, 4 April 2009

Final Press Conference Late

The final press conference for the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit will be delayed by around an hour, at a minimum. No official reason has been given, but speculation is that a last ditch attempt to have Turkey agree to the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the new Secretary General of the Alliance is behind this delay.

Incidentally, the website of the Turkish Weekly has just posted a strong denouncement of Rasmussen by Prime Minister Erdogan:

.. we do not want NATO to lose power. The media organ of the terrorist organization in my country broadcasts from Denmark. We submitted documents four years ago, but he still could not or did not stop them. We had a cartoon crisis as well. We asked them how to overcome the situation, but they still did not approach positively. Indeed, I take a dim view of his candidacy.

They also say that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened to delay any consideration by the EU of the long-standing Turkish membership bid if the crisis is not resolved by Rasmussen's appointment today.

Another rumour, carried by the Associated Press, has for the first time in several weeks named former UK Defence Secretary Des Browne as a candidate. this is probably unlikely as a second British labour Defence Minister (Lord Robertson held the post before de Hoop Scheffer) taking the post in a decade would be unlikely to find favour with many other countries.

How many of these circulating rumours are true is open to question. However, it is obvious that this issue has caused divisions within the Alliance and problems at this meeting. It might have been sensible for Heads of State and Government to have focused on this problem earlier and, in the event Turkey was clearly unpersuadable, chosen someone else in advance.

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