Inconsistency and Prejudice in EU Argument about Turkey's Membership

Letters to the Editor | March 10, 2011, Thursday // 17:18| Views: | Comments: 0

For fifty- two years Turkey has been promised that at some point, it will become a full member of the EU, but they must first be patience and also make changes to some human rights issues and other things that are a prerequisite of full membership.

Here is the time – line of events from 1959 until June 2010 that showed the snails progress and procrastination that has been made in fifty-two years, along with the political pressure from a few member countries.

July 1959 – Turkey applies for associate membership in the European Economic Community.

12 September 1963 – Association Agreement signed, acknowledging the final goal of membership.

1 December 1964 – Association Agreement comes into effect.[6]

23 November 1970 – Protocol signed providing a timetable for the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods.

1980 – Freeze in relations following the 1980 Turkish coup d'?tat.

1983 – Relations fully restored following elections.

14 April 1987 – Application for formal membership into the European Community.

18 December 1989 – European Commission refuses to immediately begin accession negotiations, citing Turkey's economic and political situation, poor relations with Greece and their conflict with Cyprus, but overall reaffirming eventual membership as the goal.

6 March 1995 – European Union-Turkey Customs Union is formed.

12 December 1999 – European Council recognises Turkey as a candidate on equal footing with other potential candidates.

12 December 2002 – European Council states that "the EU would open negotiations with Turkey 'without delay' if Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen criteria."

24 April 2004 – Turkey & Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus back the Annan Plan for Cyprus.

17 December 2004 – European Union agrees to start negotiations.

3 October 2005 – Opening of 6 chapters of the Acquis: Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services, Company Law, Financial Services, Information Society & Media, Statistics, and Financial Control.

12 June 2006 – Chapter on Science & Research opened and closed.

11 December 2006 – Continued dispute over Cyprus prompts the EU to freeze talks on 8 chapters and state that no chapters would be closed until a resolution is found.[20]

29 March 2007 – Chapter on Enterprise & Industrial Policy opened.[21]

25 June 2007 – Chapter on Statistics & Financial Control opened, but the opening of the chapter on Economic & Monetary Policy was blocked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.[22]

20 December 2007 – Chapters on Health & Consumer Protection and Trans-European Networks are opened.[23]

17 June 2008 – Chapters on Company Law and Intellectual Property Law are opened.[24]

19 December 2008 – Chapters on Free Movement of Capital and Information Society & Media are opened.[25]

30 June 2009 – Chapter on Taxation is opened.[26]

8 December 2009 – Chapter on Environment is opened.[27]

30 June 2010 – Chapter on Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy is opened.

The countries that oppose Turkey are principally..... Germany, Austria and France. Cyprus has also played a part.

The official Germany view is that it does not want Turkey to join the EU as a full member and Chancellor Merkel and her Christian Democrats want to keep it out and as an alternative only offer the prospects of a closer relationship described as a "privileged partnership," without voting rights.

For years Turkey's opponents in the EU have argued that a largely Islamic state with a distinct culture and history has no place in the EU, a political-economic bloc that Germany co-founded.

I believe that Germany is more concerned with Turkey's manufactory and business skills as a fellow EU member, than by any religious or cultural aspects. Also it may solve some of the problems with their Turkish population.

Austria seems to be blaming Turkey for the past indiscretions of the Ottoman Empire, when in 1529 they lay siege to Vienna (that was repelled), also the decisive battle of Vienna in 1683 when with the help of the Polish army, the Ottoman forces were defeated and their decline there after was rapid.

France on the other hand can't make up its mind whether having Turkey as a full partner with a 71 million manly Muslin population, will help then integrate their own Muslim, or the opposite. If they understood the Turks more they would see that they are not like the Arab Muslims that are all ready French citizens and have a completely different structure and outlook on life. This would greatly help the French with their integration problems.

This is what Herman van Rompuy, the first President of the EU said in 2004 about the Turkish issue:

"Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe," Rompuy said. Rompuy's opposition was based on Europe's Christian "fundamental values," he said in a meeting of the Council of Europe in the Belgian parliament in 2004. "An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey."

In these troubled and uncertain times a new member like Turkey would be a great asset to the EU and unique with its location, Muslim / Arab knowledge and connections, who by 2020 will be the sixth largest economy in the world. Recent EU members have included both Romania and Bulgaria (two of the worst examples of a Authoritarian rule) and Croatia accession (with indictments for war crimes still outstanding). Serbia and Kosova are knocking on the door!!!

What is in the past must stay there and surely the EU must now do the proper thing and stop bowing to xenophobic pressure from a few members and get Turkey in ASAP

Britain and the president of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso, support it!

Keith Gregory

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