That’s the question on the cover of this week’s European edition of Newsweek, and it’s a good one.
The rift isn’t formal yet, as the EU will likely opt for only a face-saving partial suspension of negotiations after a deadlock on Cyprus failed to be resolved last week. But it takes no special reading between the lines to see that a fundamental tipping point has been reached. Late last week Cyprus threatened to “veto” Turkey’s entire bid. French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, kicking off his campaign, also called for the suspension of further talks. “Turkey’s place is not in the EU,” said he.
Long experience with the EU and its predecessors warns against saying never and assuming that anything is ever completely settled. On the other hand, Turkey first signed an Association Agreement with the European Community before the Beatles had a #1 hit in America. That’s now longer than the entire lifespan of East Germany.
There are reasons why Turkish membership will take time, and why membership will be difficult for all concerned. But frankly, I can’t see how Europe’s interests are served by a definitive rejection. An important opportunity is slipping away.