On the first visit by a French president to Stockholm in nine years, Nicolas Sarkozy and host Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt have agreed to disagree about Turkey. Sweden, which has just taken over the EU presidency, wants to open up new negotiating chapters with the candidate country. France is hostile to Turkey becoming a full member of the bloc. It wants to offer Ankara a privileged partnership instead.
Sarkozy said: “I care a great deal about how Europe works, first point. Second point: I very much want Turkey to remain a bridge between east and west. Third point: We have agreed with the Swedish prime minister on language… Each will respect the other’s conviction. France will not stand in the way of the opening up of new chapters under the Swedish presidency on the condition that these chapters permit the association of Turkey with the EU and not its integration.” Another potential stumbling block is public finances. Stockholm favours austerity measures. Paris is getting ready to take out a giant state loan it intends to use to pull out of the economic crisis. Reinfelt made clear the EU presidency will not count on a vote this month in the European Parliament on a second term for Jose Manuel Barroso at the head of the European Commission.