Romano Prodi conducts himself like a bolshie and narrow-minded innkeeper, who simply cannot be bothered to find room beneath his roof for the many people waiting outside who need shelter. The President of the European Commission announced last Sunday that the European Union will soon be full, and that there is no prospect of countries such as Ukraine and Belarus becoming members. This is a shameful and imprudent slap in the face to anyone in those former Soviet republics who hopes, by establishing a political culture founded on democracy and the rule of law, to become fit for membership of the EU.
It is no use Mr Prodi predicting, in his ineffably feeble way, that the EU will come to be surrounded by a ‘ring of friends’. If the Prodian vision is pursued, the EU will come to be surrounded by a ring of dangerously discontented states, which can never affirm their nationhood, both to themselves and to the wider world, by gaining election to the club of nation states on their borders.
The changing character of the EU as it admits more members provides very good reason to welcome the great enlargement, from 15 to 25 states, which has just taken place. Countries such as Poland that have just joined have an instinctive and unembarrassed belief in freedom, democracy and nationhood which is scarcely found among the political classes in some of the older members, notably Germany and France. When you have been denied freedom for so long, and have yearned in vain to be part of the West, and have admired the liberty found in the ancient democracy of the United States, you value those blessings more highly than if you have spent your life suppressing your natural inclinations in order to discuss milk quotas in Brussels.
But let us not be too hard on Mr Prodi with his small-town prejudices. At least he sees a place in the EU for Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and also for Croatia and Serbia. The most important of these countries is Turkey. We need scarcely remind our readers that it was on the shores of Turkey that Zeus found himself charmed by the beauty of Europa. How can Turkey, the land where Homer smote his lyre, not be considered part of Europe? Yet German and French conservatives, taking their cue from the former German chancellor — the singularly uneducated and corrupt, albeit cunning, Helmut Kohl — are anxious to exclude Turkey for ever from the EU. To them the modernisation and secularisation of Turkey undertaken over 80 years ago by Kemal Atat