Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, loses no opportunity to look like a fool. He had, before his election, made very clear that he was opposed to Turkey's accession to the European Union. He had even strongly supported his predecessor's idea to include into the French Constitution an article stating that before any EU enlargement (after Croatia's), French people would have to approve it by a referendum (as a constitutionalist, I strongly reject the idea of mixing levels of priority in legal texts, but that's another story).
Furthermore, he had put as a condition to any extra discussion with Turkey (such as the opening of new "accession negotiation chapters") that an EU committee would discuss enlargement rules. This was accepted by other EU members (under Greek and Cyprus pressure) and such a committee was indeed created last week. Though the UK managed to exclude from the committee powers any discussion on the final borders of Europe, Sarkozy claimed loudly in the (French) media that such powers had been indeed included. Denying the obvious can be damaging in the future, but it seems that an otherwise relatively clever Sarkozy has suddenly lost touch with reality. Of course, the fact that French people and media did lost touch with any reality a long time ago probably helps.
Now Sarkozy has another issue at hand. He wants to be seen as the President who changes things (especially things made by Jacques Chirac, his predecessor and mortal enemy). So he decided yesterday to ditch the Constitution article mentioned above and replace it by one where the President has the right to chose between a referendum and a vote by the Congress (both French Parliament Chambers gathered together). Needless to say that it is usually a lot easier to get the second right than the first. This infuriated politicians and media opposed to Turkey's EU accession. They see it as a concession to Turkey, as French MP's are globally more in favor of Turkey's accession than French citizens themselves. I truly wonder how Sarkozy is going to sell this to his party and his voters without looking like an idiot... On the other hand, he seems to have other preoccupations right now. And about this one, I have only one thing to say: the bastard! OK, I am only jealous. ;-)