The Agence Europe is more than a weekday's bulletin for all those who are in need of following the functioning of the EU. Founded in 1953, Agence Europe has become very quickly a reliable source of information for all international civil servants, diplomats or researchers, as well as yours truly, to get acquainted with almost everything that falls within the scope of interest of European integration.
I remember times when the Internet did not exist and we were asking our office in Brussels to send through telex the recent developments about Turkey published by Agence Europe us to Istanbul. At that time, we would receive twice weekly bulletins through the post that did not allow us to follow events very accurately. Emanuele Gazzo was the dominant figure of Agence Europe, whose journalistic capacities were matched only by his formidable ascendance over the microcosmic EU community. He passed away in 1994 leaving behind a very strong tradition of federalist Europeanism. He was survived by his daughter Marina Gazzo and a very close collaborator, Ferdinando Riccardi, who is himself a monument of high quality European journalism. He is in his late 80s and still performs a very demanding job as the editorialist at Agence Europe.
Having hopefully duly defined Riccardi's career and reputation, let me go to the heart of the matter. Before him, Emanuele Gazzo did not support Turkey's candidacy to the EU. Riccardi is not less vehement about what he sees as the "end of Europe" and at least twice yearly he writes an editorial in which he advocates the abandoning of accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU while granting Turkey a preferential partner status or something that looks like it.
In his last editorial about Turkey a couple of weeks ago he reiterated his views, this time giving an example from geography books in which he learned that Turkey was not Europe. One should not have the insolence to congratulate Riccardi for his general understanding regarding geography. However, seen from purely a federalist viewpoint, definitely Europe cannot be made to take geography as a reference. It is a reference though, as stipulated in the articles of the founding treaties, for a country to have soil on the "European Continent" to apply for membership, among other conditions.
Frontiers of the "European Continent" are arbitrary anyhow as neither Cyprus nor Amazonian regions like French Guiana can possibly be considered being on the "soil of the European continent." Still, this is a very biased consideration of Europeanness, because New Zealand, on the other part of the globe, is much more European than some member states that I do not have to openly say.
The EU is based on the universal values of democracy, pluralism, participation, transparency and secularism. Without a secular system the EU would have been another failure just as many other examples in history. In that sense, criticizing Turkey for its possible shortcomings in democratic functioning is not only understandable, but also compulsory for the EU. Still, in the absence of any viable mechanism to ensure democratic functioning within member states, having the title of EU member does not give some member states real authority on the matter. The functioning of the EU has turned into a sour conflict between Turkey and member states opposed to its entry. EU membership is instrumentalized only in this realm - it does not render opposing member states, starting from Greek Cyprus, to be anything more than a Russian submarine and money-laundering center in the middle of the Mediterranean. This is not Europeanness and the EU will probably fall victim to the last enlargement if drastic measures are not taken. Such measures, encompassing the amendment of founding treaties, are to be accepted unanimously. How will this be possible? Signor Riccardi, forget about Turkey, it is being held at arm's length by a common will and contrary to international agreements. But a number of member states are plainly blackmailing the EU and turning it into a totally ineffective international structure like the U.N. without muck reputation left. As a federalist, perhaps the real danger resides there, and Turkey is definitely not there to dilute European integration as it is already turning into a liquid form.