RJH writes...

7 October 1571 and Don Juan of Austria leads a European Christian alliance to victory against Sultan Selim at the naval battle of Lepanto. Much as the defeat at Stalingrad in 1942/1943 showed the world that the Nazis could lose catastrophically, Lepanto destroyed the myth of Ottoman invincibility and marked the empire's first step onto the slippery slope.

Nearly 435 years to the day and the Austrians - led this time by the less romantically named Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik - were back at it, opposing Turkey's entry into European Union (EU) accession talks. These negotiations were previously agreed to by all EU members, and were due to begin today.

For this battle, though, Donna Plassnik did not have the backing of a single ally. Or at least none that wanted to stand up officially and be counted. Austria thus backed down for the price (reportedly) of smoothing the passage of her friend Croatia's own EU accession bid.

Capital Chronicle has covered Turkey and the EU before ("Turkeys voting for Christmas"). Our view has not changed: there is a clear gap between the views of EU political leaders and those of their populations regarding the desirability of Turkey's accession. Doubters need only consult the final page of the EU's Eurobarometer's latest survey results here for confirmation. Turkey is dead last in this popularity contest with only Albania as the nearest company.

But with Turkey's accession negotiations estimated to last a decade, this episode, unlike Lepanto, is but a minor skirmish. And prelude.

[Editor: So enjoy the Turkish emerging market gains before battle is rejoined. PS - an Austrian Don Juan?]

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