Turkey vs EU

In both the French and Dutch No camps some voices were raised against Turkey entering the EU. Via Dutch weblog Sargasso I found a very interesting entry at Turkish weblog Turkish Torque. One excerpt:

It seems like AKP, like many Turks, has been discouraged by the French and Dutch referenda. This will only strengthen the hand of all the parties that have accused AKP with “selling out” national interests to the EU membership dream. (…) Letting go of the EU project would be a radical shift in foreign policy with serious repercussions on many foreign and domestic issues ranging from Cyprus to the re-trial of Ocalan.

It seems that the consequences of the demise of the Constitutional Treaty may reach further than ‘just’ an institutional crisis within the EU itself. Sadly, I do not have the time, nor the knowledge, to go into this but I believe it would be worthwile to follow this one a bit more closely.

14 thoughts on “Turkey vs EU

  1. That’s exactly the attitude that made people in europe more cautious about Turkey.
    Let us in now and we’ll behave like europeans, don’t and you’ll suffer because we’ll turn fundamentalist and generally nasty.

  2. “Let us in now and we’ll behave like europeans”

    I think Jan that this highlights one of my biggest problems with the nationalist way of looking at things, treating whole countries as if they were one single personality. The people who are secular and those who are deeply religious are not the same. In another post I discuss the up and coming Italian referendum. Some Italians think like Beedict XVI, others don’t. Some Turks are religious, otehrs aren’t, and a small minority, of course, are extreme fundamentalists. I don’t think we would get very far imagining that all Frenchmen were Jean Marie Le Pen.

    So there is a battle in Turkey between those who want a more secular state, and those who don’t. The EU can either assist those who are trying to modernise Turkey by sticking by its word, or we can go back on our word, and give arguments to those who in the long run may want to cause us (and those who think like us in Turkey) harm. Now which is it to be?

  3. Well Janne arguably that cuts both ways. Turkey is told to implement various reforms so it can be considered for membership, then comes to a realisation that for reasons that may not be more sophisticated than the dominant religion or ‘makeup’ of its populace it is unlikely ever to be invited in.

    I’d jack up too if I had a court in Europe telling me to implement criminal law (for example) on the basis of lofty, universalist ideals, while at the same time people denied me membership benefits because of a protracted debate whose true nature is increasingly obvious to even the most naive of observers.

  4. Actually, I think Turkish politicians are more shrewd than you give them credit for.

    It is a situation reminiscent of that it Quebec, where the Quebecois know full well that they will never leave Canada but they still blackmail Ottawa for more and more concessions by threatening to do so.

    All of the new members that recently joined wanted to do so and didn’t need coaxing from the EU to implement things that are self evident in europe, such as respect for human rights enshrined in their legal system.

    I don’t think that is too much to ask ,they are not lofty ideals as you put it, if anything it is the bare minimum and it should be happening in Turkey regardless whether membership is on offer.

    If Turkey joins, it will be one of the leading powers in Europe, on a par with France, Germany and the UK, or at least it would have been under the Eur. Constitution. If anything, we should be seeking a higher standard from Turkey, not the bare minimum.

    By the way, europe offered turkey membership only because Schroeder put pressure on Chirac, I dont think there was much will for it in other europena capitals. The debate isn’t over, it only just started and all possibilities should be on the table not just membership.

  5. “I dont think there was much will for it in other european capitals.”

    No, the UK is fully behind Turkey membership. I think it will be non-negotiable for Blair. Actually it ooccurs that the UK might even try and veto any attempt to *change* existing policy.

    The origins of the proposal probably come from eurosceptic Thatcher, who strongly wanted Central Europe and Turkey in to sabotage the Federalist project, in this sense it looks like she may have come back to haunt us.

    “I don’t think that is too much to ask”

    I don’t think anyone is arguing anything different from this. The highest standards should be maintained, this is in Turkey’s interest too. It was the way you spoke about the Turks themselves that worried me.

    I agree with your general analysis that Turkey, like China, India and Brazil, is a new emerging power. Just give it 20 or 30 years.

  6. Actually, I never refered to the ‘Turks themselves’ but rather to the brinkmanship of the Turkish leadership and how Europe should avoid falling prey to this type of blackmail.

    If this is a precursor to how Turkey will behave when it joins, I’m not impressed. The same way I’m not impressed with Schroeder advocating such a poorly thought out pro-atlanticist move such as offering outright membership to Turkey without considering any other alternatives.

    It was poor leadership, it has weakened the european bargaining position both against the US and Turkey and it has alienated France and many other pro-europeans.

    If this approach works for Turkey then why not for Morroco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel etc. The wider issue is how Europe will deal with countries in its periphery (it will have to sooner or later) and it can’t be the all or nothing approach it has followed with Turkey.

  7. “If this is a precursor to how Turkey will behave when it joins, I’m not impressed.”

    It depends what the yardstick is I suppose, we still can’t get honest numbers out of Italy’s economics department on government spending, and this was one of the original members.

    “I never refered to the ‘Turks themselves'”

    OK fine, I accept. But then you say this:

    “how Turkey will behave when it joins”

    Or how France behaves, or how the UK behaves, or how the UK behaves…..

    I just reject this nationalistic rhetoric. Why not how the present Turkish government behaves, the US administration, French anti-globalisers? The other way of talking implies that nations are not evolving aggregates of diverse origins and opinions, but eternal identities carved in stone.

    “thought out pro-atlanticist move”

    Aha, so this is the problem, Turkey might be a ‘Trojan Horse’ for the US. I really don’t see the world this way, but even if I did, wouldn’t it be better to try and draw Turkey nearer to Europe. I mean there is Oil (the new pipeline) and Turkey *can* help with relations with the Muslim countries and with those existing EU citizens who are muslim, as well of course with some central asian countries etc. If ‘atlanticism’ is your enemy, then presumeably you are better of drawing Turkey in.

  8. “Or how France behaves, or how the UK behaves, or how the UK behaves….”

    well they recognise the other EU members to mention but one minor difference.

    I would agree in principle with your theory that Turkey will be more ‘European’ once it joined were it not for stumbling blocks, such as the involvement of the army in politics which might suggest that they might also just harden their stance in many issues.

    A more cautious approach is probably wiser, I don’t see why this all or nothing approach is necessary at this moment.

  9. “So there is a battle in Turkey between those who want a more secular state”

    Not the state, EU makes the Turkey state more religious but a country that is less religious

    “All of the new members that recently joined wanted to do so and didn’t need coaxing from the EU to implement things that are self evident in europe, such as respect for human rights enshrined in their legal system.”

    You mean with Roma rights in Cental Europe and Russian rights in the Baltic? Absolutely no coaxing necesarry *cough*

  10. “well they recognise the other EU members to mention but one minor difference.”

    Spain recognises Gibraltar? That is news to me

  11. “It is a situation reminiscent of that it Quebec, where the Quebecois know full well that they will never leave Canada but they still blackmail Ottawa for more and more concessions by threatening to do so.”

    oh really? sounds like the rantings of a bitter Canadian ‘federalist’ who’s a little out of touch with public opinion in Qu?bec. you might be surprised to know that a majority of Qu?b?cois people now support independence from Canada, as evidenced by the latest polls. and while this support has admittedly surged recently due to the shameless corruption of the federal Liberals coming to light, for about a third of Qu?becois it has always been there and isn’t tied in any real way to any tangible political issues one could `blackmail’ Ottawa with.

  12. Edward, aren’t you underestimating French and German diplomacy here, by applying your own generous moral standards ? It’s in the interests of the European economies to open up a stable and democratic Turkish market.

    Both the AKP and the military ‘guarantors’ of the secular order had to be offered a bait to move in this direction, since as the course of the negotiations has shown, the main players in Turkey, for very different reasons specific to their own power bases, will find it difficult to adapt to European conceptions of civil society. Their very different orientations keeps them in an arm-wrestling match which freezes out other players until one of the two main forces has gained the upper hand.

    I am guessing that even the Germans knew all along that Turkish accession was never going to happen, and that they never even wanted it, because of the political implications for the German European role.

    What they did want was Turkey’s forces eased out of a potentially troublemaking position in Cyprus and eventually Turkey accepting some half-way house whereby they would institutionalise the level of secular democratisation achieved in the pursuit of the bait, thereby providing Germany with a very good trading partner. Chirac risked a lot of political credibility on backing this ploy, and as usual, Britain had only the vaguest idea of what was really going on. (One can’t have Echelon bugging absolutely, one might get caught).

    As I said, pure guesswork, but it makes more sense to me than the alternatives. France is a big investor in Turkey, but I’m sure the prospect of another form of strong atlanticism within an already erratic EU was seen for what it was, something that would stall the integration bicycle that has to move forwards if it is not to fall.

  13. “It’s in the interests of the European economies to open up a stable and democratic Turkish market.”

    Yes, I’?m sure you are right that “the reasons why” were many and various.

    “was seen for what it was, something that would stall the integration bicycle that has to move forwards if it is not to fall.”

    I’m sure this was present too, especially in the case of Ms Thatcher. But my main points now would be two. In the first place it is going to be very difficult for the EU to ‘back off’ from this now. Dither maybe, but back off completely, I doubt it. Precisely because of the muslim component. The EU would have a hell of a lot of complicated explaining to do.

    Secondly, Turkey’s demographics at present seem to be one of the causes for aprehension. My bet is that ten years from now this will be seen in a different light: we aged Europeans will be jealous of all that youth. We will welcome ‘growth hungry’ Turkey as part of the club.

    I think the basic point is that societies evolve.

  14. Frankly I do not see on what grounds Turkey
    should be allowed into Europe. Ethnicity? Language? History? Recent History ?(Armenian genocide, Kurds etc.) Religion? If Turkey
    why not Algeria, Morocco, Israel, Pakistan? Europe has had enough invaders and a proliferation of “rights” legislation. Europe is full.

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