International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

September 28, 2004

September 28, 2004





**  The European Union is facing a "fateful decision" on its future relations with Turkey.

**  "Problems remain" but boosters tout "undeniable" advantages of Turkey's accession.

**  Skeptics cite human rights, Islamic identity as proof Turkey and EU remain "far apart."

**  Turkish media say Erdogan mishandled adultery issue, pushing EU project "to the brink."




Europe 'must say yes'--  Analysts in the UK, Italy, Belgium, Denmark and Spain favored holding EU accession talks with Turkey.  Arguing that "the broad thrust of Turkish politics is heading in the right direction," Britain's conservative Times held that "the case for embracing clear."  Other UK analysts termed the debate "critically important" and the "arguments in favor, strategic."  Italy's center-right Il Giornale asserted "it is in everyone's interest to have Turkey inside Europe," adding that the coming EU decision on offering talks would provide "a major opportunity" for anyone "interested in a dialogue" with Islam.


Talks are 'no guarantee'--  Supporters agreed with more neutral observers, however, that despite "huge progress" in political and economic reform, Turkey "still has a long road to walk."  An "essential question," Belgium's financial L'Echo said, is "the EU's capacity to integrate a country of 72 million people" with a much smaller GDP per capita than Europe.  Britain's independent Financial Times identified the "real challenge" as cultural--is Europe "prepared to accept such a large Islamic country" into the EU and can Turkey "accommodate European values"?  The Turkish government's "volte-face" on criminalizing adultery, observed a left-of-center French paper, "proves...that the EU has had an influence" on Ankara's reforms.


'Promises are useless'--  Accession opponents contended Turkey "is not ready for the club."  Sentiment was particularly widespread in German and Austrian papers that "serious problems" remained and that continued "torture and mistreatment" as well as the military's influence show "a democratic state based on the rule of law is not yet in sight" in Turkey.  Modern Europe "is a community based on values" and only those "who share its principles and rules" can join, argued Germany's Financial Times Deutschland.  PM Erdogan's reversal on the adultery law, an Austrian writer averred, came "under great pressure" and the issue illustrates "how far apart the EU and Turkey still are."  The Czech Republic's mainstream MF Dnes summed up European fears of Turkey this way:  "It is too big.  It is too Muslim.  It is too poor."


Turkey 'cannot afford mistakes'--  Turkish outlets declared the EU "should not close its doors to Turkey," but admitted the adultery controversy had led to a "very stressful" time; PM Erdogan had "stumbled over the issue."  Turkey "cannot afford any more crises on the road to the EU," they warned.  Urging Ankara to "take the initiative," mass-appeal Milliyet claimed this could be the "last chance" for both the EU and Turkey.  Islamist Vakit chastised the government for its "submissive acceptance" of Brussels' conditions, but other papers stated that "gradual integration" with the EU would boost Turkey's "democratization."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 44 reports from 15 countries September 15 - 27, 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Seize The Day"


An editorial in the conservative Times read (9/24):  "In the course of the accession talks, assuming they begin on schedule, substantial obstacles will naturally arise.  Women's rights in Turkey must be reinforced.  Demands for cultural autonomy for Turkey's Kurds must, as far as possible, be met, and millions must be lifted out of poverty, not least to soothe the fears of a deluge of cheap labor depriving the Continent's blue-collar workers of jobs....  The broad thrust of Turkish politics is already heading in the right direction and to reject its presence would be seen in Ankara, quite understandably, as a return to past enmity.  More than ever, the case for embracing Turkey, not shunning her, is clear."


"Turkey And Europe"


The independent Financial Times declared (9/24):  "The question of whether Turkey is ready to open negotiations to become a full member of the European Union is not only critically important but politically very sensitive....  The arguments in favor are strategic: binding Turkey to the EU would give the lie to any 'clash of civilizations', and bring a young and vigorous economy into 'old Europe'.  If Turkish membership of the EU is to become a reality, it is essential to get those arguments across to ordinary voters.  It would be dangerously counter-productive for such a decision to be seen as just another project of the elite."


"Why Europe Must Say Yes To Turkey"


An editorial in the independent weekly Economist read (9/18):  "It is impossible to demonstrate a priori that Islam is compatible with liberal democracy.  But Turkey is as good a test case as any with which to prove the point.  Indeed, it is precisely in order to encourage Turks (and other Muslims) to buy into liberal democracy that Turkey must be given the benefit of the doubt, and offered EU membership talks.  If the Turks move backwards, whether on human rights or on religious fundamentalism, they can always be shown the door again."


"The Case For Letting Turkey In"


Quentin Peel commented in the independent Financial Times (9/16):  "The timing could hardly have been worse.  The proposal by the Turkish government to bring back prison sentences for adultery...looked like a disastrous own goal....  When the Turkish government backed down on was a demonstration of how critical the campaign for EU membership has become in Ankara....  After 41 years in the waiting room, Turkey's pro-EU campaigners believe they are in sight of their goal....  But can the EU members pluck up the courage to give Turkey the green light?...  The real challenges are cultural.  Is Europe prepared to accept such a large Islamic country into its midst?  Can Turkey accommodate European values?  If the world is going to resist the present drive of fanatics and extremists to divide it into some disastrous clash of civilizations, we must hope that the answer to both questions is Yes."


FRANCE:  "European Guile"


France's right-of-center Le Figaro said (9/24):  "In trying to please everyone, PM Erdogan has ended up by having everyone against him....  So now we don't know who he is, and what he wants for his country.  Has he come to Brussels to do battle with Europe...or does he now want to calm things down?"


"EU Still Has Influence"


Left-of-center Le Monde contended (9/16):  "The Turkish government's decision to drop its plan to criminalize adultery from a package of legal reforms proves...if proof were still needed, that the EU has had an influence on the process of reform in Turkey....  Ankara has done a complete deciding not to add an amendment to the draft Penal Code providing for prison terms for this 'crime'....  This change of heart...once more illustrates the growing power of civil society, especially of feminist organizations who sounded the alarm to prevent such an article becoming law....  However...the government has not officially announced it is abandoning its plan, but has instead discreetly shelved it."


GERMANY:  "Verheugen"


Martin Halusa commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/27):  "So far, Turkey's commitments and promises only exist on paper.  Although the country has clearly changed--it abandoned the death penalty, advanced freedom of speech and pushed back the military--Verheugen's statement that there are no indications of 'systematic torture' sounds almost cynical, because human rights organizations are continuously reporting on tortures and crimes committed by the administration.  They might not be systematic or state-organized, but they are more than individual cases.  Promises are useless unless they become law and are enforced even in the farthest reaches of the country.  Turkey does not comply with the Copenhagen criteria as long as this is not the case.  The EU is not a wobbly association for the greater good of all of us, but a community with strict laws, all of which Turkey must accept."


"Standing On Both Sides"


Gerd Hoehler agrued in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (9/27):  "It would be too superficial to disregard the crises as a theater play in which Erdogan emerges as a hero at the end.  The controversy shows that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is two-faced in his relations with Europe and the Muslim world.  Erdogan wants to stand on both sides in the current fight between an old and new Turkey.  He wants to serve everybody for tactical reasons or because he cannot make up his mind....  By trotting on this thin line, Erdogan will neither convince the EU nor his own people.  He must make up his mind where he stands."  


"Eurasian Markets"


Wolfgang Guenther Lerch commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (9/24):  "It is easy to believe that the entire conflict was fake and tactically motivated.  By planning to criminalize adultery, Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to offer something to his conservative Islamic electorate that he did not support himself.  He had to do it because two previous Islamic projects had failed.  Brussels is now praising him for his concession, but also Commissioner Verheugen, who truly is in favor of Ankara's accession, was able to imply by his justified objection to the adultery law that nothing had been decided.  The truth is that Ankara will be soon told a date for accession talks.  Things will pick up pace then, since elites have already agreed on the matter.  It is about Eurasian markets."


"Turkish Honey"


Christoph Schwennicke opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (9/24):  "Europeans are now rubbing their eyes, because Erdogan had rejected any outside interference just a few days ago, saying it was up to Turkey alone to decide whether to criminalize adultery.  The quarrel with Europe escalated because Erdogan did not understand that we had caught him in flagrante feeding national resentments against Europe.  He proved what all Turkey skeptics seem to know:  The large country on the Bosporus is not ready for the club.  Erdogan's maneuver damaged the trust in Turkey's groundbreaking reforms.  EU governments will struggle now more than ever before to make a decision about Turkey's future and that of Europe.  Thanks to Erdogan we have a new debate."


"Verheugen's Coup"


Eric Bonse wrote in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf  (9/24):  "The speed of events should not conceal the fact that a number of serious problems are unsolved.  The penal code must yet be enforced, torture and mistreatment continue, and the military is still playing a major role in Turkey--a democratic state based on the rule of law is not yet in sight.  Even Verheugen believes that it will take ten years until Turkey is ripe for the EU.  The future industrial commissioner does not want to raise more obstacles, but it remains to be seen whether Turkey meets all entry requirements.  Not just Agriculture Commissioner Fischler doubts that.  Above all, the sudden agreement did not solve a single problem of a potential accession.  Neither Turkey nor the EU are prepared for an eternal marriage."


"The Adultery Lesson"


Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (9/24):  "Europeans and Turks should learn the lesson of the recent conflict.  It would be fatal if we pretended that everything would happen automatically now.  Despite decades of commitments and the talk of a strategic bridge to the Islam world, modern Europe is a community based on values, which only those can join who share its principles and rules.  The quarrel over the adultery law has reminded everybody of that at the right time.  Europeans must act with the same vigor if similar issues come up during the negotiation talks.  This should also include freezing talks....  Turkey must know right from the start that it cannot return to an Islamic policy after the country joined the EU.  On the other hand, Europeans are well advised to keep the demands at high levels."


"Keep Calm"


Christoph Rabe commented in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (9/21):  "The risk of Turkey collapsing in front of the European gate as a result of political clumsiness seems to have been averted, at least for the time being.  Nothing else has change Turkey more since reformers came into office than the prospect of EU accession talks.  For 41 years Turkey has been waiting for it.  Above all, the young conservative-Islamic party AKP revamped Turkey in the last two years, leading the country out of corruption and political chaos and launching deep-seated reforms.   Many observers see the change of Turkey as a revolution.  Erdogan has given Turkey a new image by a spate of new laws overhauling politics, the economy and the society.  It is now a country embarking upon overdue reforms and advancing towards European values.  Facts count and not the commotion over the marriage law....  Turkey would certainly be a burden for the EU, and not just a financial one.  But it will also strengthen the community, because Turkey is a rapidly growing market, which is what the rest of the Europe needs.  In addition, it would force the EU to change institutionally.  It could prove its capability to change into a cross-culture community and show that democracy and Islam can exists in harmony.  That is a prerequisite for Europe if it wants to bear new geopolitical responsibilities in trouble spots, such as the Middle East and the Caucasus....  If the EU were to snub Turkey despite all the country's achievements, it would put its own credibility and future power at stake.  Turkey would not make a fresh start for Europe, but look for alternative alliances--to the EU's disadvantage.  The Commission and EU leaders must keep calm.  It would help nobody if Brussels became nervous."


"Cancel The Offer"


Jochen Koenig argued in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf  (9/21):  "Politicians must bold and correct their agreement from 1999, when they chose Turkey as a EU candidate after a debate that lasted just three minutes....  The nature of the European Union is defined by its name.  Turkey is not situated in Europe but in Asia--apart from the region surrounding Istanbul.  Not just the country's geography contradicts Turkey's desire for EU membership.  The EU is more than a multicultural community with common values and a more than a free trade area.  With its constitution it wants to strengthen the political side of the Union, which has already gained political power in the world.  But Turkey does not suit the political union; Ankara itself does not want it, as we can see in the debate over the penal code."


ITALY:  "Turkey Passes The First EU Exam"


Romano Dapas observed in Rome-based center-left Il Messaggero (9/24):  “In Germany, the Christian-Democrats of the CDU have spoken out against Turkey’s ascension and presented a letter written by Angela Merkel to EU governments that proposes a ‘privileged partnership’ with Turkey but that will prevent Europe from expanding beyond its own borders.  A Gallup poll conducted in Austria revealed that three out of four Austrians, meaning 76 percent of the population, is against beginning negotiations for Turkey’s membership.  Mindful of Vienna’s long siege by Turkish armies, 68 out of 100 Austrians are of the opinion that ‘Turkey won’t be mature enough to enter the EU in ten or twenty years.”


"Turkey Is Europe’s Dilemma"


Franco Venturini wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (9/22):  “Europe can’t and won’t say no to Turkey.  Most certainly the EU Commission and Council will review every detail regarding Turkey’s willingness to negotiate its membership.  Europe’s green light is tied to Ankara’s completion of its reform program.  Many will try to drag out negotiations as long as possible.  But a refusal is out of the question because Turkey can count on the most convincing of allies--Islamic terrorism.”


"The Meaning Of Welcoming Turkey"


Ferdinando Salleo, former Italian Ambassador to Washington, wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (9/21):  “We should closely consider the consequences [of Turkey’s ascension] on the Union....  In light of current institutional conditions, I fear that Turkey’s ascension, even if final in 2013, would immediately invert the political and institutional axis toward free trade to the damage of an integrationist evolution....  A definitive refusal would have serious consequences in the short to long term....  Europe’s isolation in the Near and Middle East would be accentuated and Cyprus would remain a national issue.  Long-term consequences would be even worse....  Expectations of Turkish society are high and could trigger a complicated process that could erase secularization and drive a democratic country toward the progressive assimilation of its tumultuous and unstable authoritarian neighbors, toward a very dangerous type of Islamic nationalism.”


"Opportunity Over Turkey"


Renato Brunetta wrote in pro-government center-right Il Giornale (9/14):  "Islam:  anyone who wants dialogue has a major opportunity.  On 6 October the European Commission is due to decide on whether to give a positive verdict on the commencement of negotiations over Turkey's membership of the EU....  These are two fundamental moments for the future of Europe....  Politically and economically, it is in everyone's interests to have a Turkey inside Europe.  Albeit not in a short timeframe, and with due guarantees and checks....  Turkey has voted through more democratic reforms in the last two years than throughout the previous decade, and it is no coincidence that the people who are opposed to its joining the Union are the more reactionary Turkish parties:  nationalists, Islamists, traditional Kemalists, and a large section of the military establishment.  Thanks to this process of reforms, Ankara today offers a reference model for democracy, and for the concept of a State subject to the rule of law, for all Islamic countries.  Definitively anchoring Turkey to Europe means, on the one hand, speeding up the completion of democratic reforms, and on the other hand avoiding a possible drift toward fundamentalism.  A refusal, or a postponement of the commencement of membership negotiations would, instead, give the impression of a Europe that is a closed 'Christian Club'....  In short, the advantages for Turkey and for the EU are undeniable....  It is necessary to begin the membership talks as soon as possible.  Time, and gradual integration (economic, democratic, and cultural integration), will do the rest, dispelling prejudices, apprehensions, forms of egoism, and real problems."


"Turkey And Iran, EU Faces Test"


Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore noted (9/14):  "Today 'dialogue,' not only with moderate Islam but also with that Islam which is merely amenable to isolating the terrorists, is indispensable.  But this dialogue demands clarity.  At the current time, Europe has two important opportunities to obtain this clarity:  discussions on Turkey's membership of the EU...and discussions on the stance to be adopted...on the nuclear bomb which, according to several international observers, Tehran could build in the next few months....  Regarding Turkey, objections that are too unbalanced have been raised ('there are too many of them,' 'they are Asiatics,' 'their membership cancels out the Christian victory in the siege of Vienna')....  The decisions regarding Turkey and Iran represent two fundamental episodes for understanding what stance Europe will take over the next few years.  Turkey's membership of the EU cannot be treated superficially:  there can be no discounts over rights, and careful attention should be paid to the geopolitical effects of Ankara's membership.  But the integration in Europe of a Muslim and modern country is fundamental for getting not only our Old Continent, but also the entire world, back on track."


RUSSIA:  "Differences Remain"


Boris Volkhonskiy asserted in business-oriented Kommersant (9/24):  "Despite optimistic statements by officials, far from all contradictions have been removed.  The 'hot' issue of human rights between Brussels and Ankara is just a smoke screen hiding the true reasons some member-states resist the admission of a country that has potential to secure a place among the EU leaders."


AUSTRIA:  "Turkish Show"


Editor Eva Linsinger contended in independent Der Standard (9/24):  "Why this show?  What is the reason for Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan to risk the crisis with the EU because of the adultery article in the law?  There are several possible answers to this question.  There are domestic considerations:  the insistence on the punishment for adultery was a concession to the pro-Islamists and the conservative voters.  There are principal considerations:  Erdogan underestimated the degree of outrage in Brussels and only gave in under great pressure--this would serve to demonstrate how far apart the EU and Turkey still are.  The cynical considerations:  Erdogan has pulled off this show--including dramatic reconciliation--quite deliberately to divert attention from the economic doubts about a Turkish EU membership.  All three possibilities make one thing clear:  even if the 'OK' for membership negotiations is now final, the negotiations themselves are going to be difficult, long, and laborious.  And the tug-of-war about the criminal law will not have been the last conflict between Ankara and Brussels."


"Turkey Should Show It's Sorry"


Walter Friedl maintained in mass-circulation Kurier (9/23):  "When Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes his eagerly-awaited appearance in Brussels today, his room for maneuver is very much restricted.  After the turbulence of the last few days, everyone in Europe from Lisbon to Helsinki and from London to Heraklion are expecting one thing only from him--to take back his plan to put adultery once more under punishment....  In the current heated debate, Erdogan has no choice:  he has to backpedal on the adultery issue and pass it off as a blunder, even if this is hard for him to sell at home.  However, this is an experience that every EU head of government has had to go through.  And after all, Erdogan wants to be part of this group at some point in the future, doesn't he?”


"The Turks Before Vienna"


Editor Christian Rainer commented in independent political weekly Profil (9/20):  "The European identity is in reality an economic identity.  To those who argue that Europe also has a political identity beyond the economic factor one can only respond by stating:  with regard to its identity 'beyond' economics, which lies essentially in the area of foreign policy, Turkey is more thoroughly integrated into the EU through its NATO membership than is, for instance, Austria.  Europe defines itself through economic regulations....  What a Turkish membership means for the EU can be summed up as what any bank or insurance agency would call 'cluster risk' where one customer can destabilize the entire enterprise through its sheer size in relation to the company.  In the case of Turkey, this risk consists of many uncertainties.  Just to name some examples:  low economic production that has to be boosted by EU payments; hidden unemployment among a huge young population which might truly result in migration this time; an unstable currency.  The weight that Turkey would carry in Europe--in addition to its NATO membership--would make Brussels liable to blackmail from the politicians in Ankara."


BELGIUM:  "Virtually Impossible To Say 'No'"


Foreign affairs writer Kris Van Haver commented in independent financial daily De Tijd (9/25):  "What happened in the past makes it virtually impossible to say 'No' to Turkey.  The European leaders cannot do anything else than follow the European Commission.  A deviation from that line would not be coherent and would be viewed as politically incorrect by Ankara.  At the same time those leaders are confronted with public opinions that are opposed to Turkish membership.  That opposition is outspoken in Germany and Austria, but also tangible in all the member states.  In this debate extreme right-wing parties fully exploit the cultural and religious gaps with Turkey.  It will be a task for most European governments to 'sell' the talks with Turkey to their populations in an acceptable manner, especially because the debate over Turkey threatens to dominate the approval of the European Constitution.  European circles fear that in the countries where referenda on that Constitution will be held in the spring a bill will be presented for the membership talks with Turkey.  That 'sale' may happen in the form of a white lie:  it is true that the negations with Turkey will start, but they will last long.  Of course, those talks will take time, but the dynamics of the membership talks must not be underestimated either.  Who thought 10 years ago that Romania would become an EU member in 2007?  Yet, that scenario is the most likely today."


"Turkey And EU's Capacity"


Olivier Gosset observed in financial L'Echo (9/25):  "One would be wrong to limit the Turkish question to adultery problems.  If one considers that Ankara's European vocation is legitimate, the only question that should be asked for the time being is whether Turkey has made enough progress in the democratic field to deserve the opening of negotiations on its EU membership.  But this essential question should not prevent another question from being asked, i.e. that of the EU's capacity to integrate a country of 72 million people who have a much lower purchasing power, than the European average.  Such a prospect appears unrealistic without a deep reform of EU's policies.  The EU's financial resources would not be able to cope with the inclusion of Turkey in the CAP and in the regional aids systems.  There would also be institutional problems:  with its current demography, Turkey will probably become the EU's largest member in 15 years, increasing the risks of getting to an institutional deadlock.  In addition, there is also the question of social dumping and of emigration, two sensitive questions for European public opinions.  Should Turkey's candidacy for EU membership therefore be rejected?  Not at all.  There is no reason that Turkey, which has achieved more reforms since it became a candidate for EU membership two years ago than during the previous 10 years, fail where former Socialist republics from Eastern and Central Europe succeeded."


"Turkey And The EU"


Agnes Gorissen wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (9/24):  "Let us be serious:  the assurances that Erdogan gave on adultery and torture were necessary but not sufficient.  How about the respect of the rights of minorities, such as the Kurds?  Progress has been made, on the cultural field, for instance.  But there are still problems in the Southeast of the country.  Questions also remain about the penal code that is being revised.  Let us just give one example:  it will no longer be policemen but only prosecutors who will be allowed to request virginity tests.  Is this better?  Isn't the very existence of these medieval tests in contradiction with European values?  Lastly, how democratic is a country where the army has so much power?  Europe must be demanding.  Because, as the future EU Commission President Barroso pointed out on Tuesday, 'it is Turkey that must adapt itself to Europe's rules, and not the other way around.'"




Piet Piryns wondered in liberal weekly Knack (9/23):  "The key question is:  where do Europe's borders lie?  Is Turkey a European country?  As long as it is about participation in the European song contest or the (European soccer) Champions League we tend to answer 'yes.'  However, when it is about Turkey's access to the EU, problems arise.  'Cultural differences' between Turkey and Europe then become the issue.  Of course, there are such differences.  In all their diversity the 25 current member states have one thing in common:  their Christian tradition....  With Turkey they would bring in 'backward' Islam--like a Trojan horse.  That is the reasoning.  However, one can see it differently.  Since Ataturk, Turkey has become a modern secular state.  In a country where the large majority is Islamic that is far from evident.  Negotiations with Ankara about EU membership--which will last at least ten years--will strengthen the position of the democratic and liberal forces in Turkey.  Without EU pressure Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan would probably not have swallowed his conviction that adulterers belong behind bars.  The reality is that if Europe refuses to cross the Bosporus it will run the danger of having an Islamic state in its backyard."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "True Intentions"


Mainstream MF Dnes asked (9/24):  "We wonder whether the EU really wants to expand to include Turkey....  The closer the decision, the more divided is Europe....  Why does Europe fear Turkey?  It is too big.  It is too Muslim. It is too poor.  It is too far away and on a different continent."


DENMARK:  "Multi-Speed EU Has Room For Turkey"


Independent business daily Børsen commented (9/27):  “Today, the EU is operating at several different speeds.  This has been the case for the last 30 years.  Turkish inclusion in the EU would represent a continuation of this tradition and underscore the fact that the European Union is an open and democratic institution and not a closed Christian organization.”


IRELAND:  "The Turkish Dilemma"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (9/21):  “The European Union faces a fateful decision this year on its future relations with Turkey.  Its political leaders must decide in December whether to open negotiations without delay on Turkish membership of the EU, a commitment agreed in 1999.  The issue itself goes back to 1963.  Opening talks is no guarantee that they would conclude successfully or soon, but the negotiations would lead undoubtedly to acceptance of Turkey's right in principle to join the EU.  That is why there is once again growing resistance to the prospect from those who believe Turkey does not share cultural or civilizational values with Europe, cannot be absorbed by the existing political structures of the EU, is incapable of adapting politically to membership and would undermine it economically.  Behind such concerns there is an unstated conviction that Turkey's Islamic culture is incompatible with Europe's religious or secular values....  The reforms proposed in the Turkish penal code are sweeping....  The reforms radically alter Turkey's legal and political culture.  The central constitutional role of the military has been reduced and brought into line with common European practice....  Mr. Erdogan must assert his authority and find a political consensus to remove the adultery clause totally if he is to remain credible as a broker of reform and a champion of EU membership.”


POLAND:  "Erdogan The Winner"


Robert Soltyk observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (9/24):  “Erdogan was successful at one thing: by focusing the attention of the public on the symbolic matter of adultery, and by scoring--as it seems--an equally symbolic victory, the Turkish prime minister showed that he holds the helm firmly in his hands.  This way he gained some confidence in Europe.  But one move does not determine that the game has been won.  All the more that there are many who do not want that Turkey--lay, reforming, but also Muslim, big, and, on top of this, located mostly in Asia--enter the EU at all.  In order to dispel their concerns, Erdogan will have to do even much more.”


SLOVAKIA:  "The Decision Burden In Turkey"


Foreign affairs analyst Adrian Peter Pressburg stated in moderate Narodna Obroda (9/9):  "European and world entrepreneurs are in favor of Turkey’s integration into the EU.  So is the USA.  None of the 25 members of the EU is against it.  There were only few negative reactions among the overall approval.  The nerves are hidden behind the spastic smiles and forced optimism in Brussels.  We are talking about a country of 75 million that at the time of its entry would be the most populous among the EU countries.  That would give it certain rights in Brussels....  What if Ankara does not solve the problems with the Kurds until then, or if so, then only on paper?  What if Islamic fundamentalism strengthens and some Turks do not accept the liberal Western understanding of morals, family and minorities rights?  To cope with the destabilizing influence, Ankara’s pro-European government would have to establish an authoritarian rule.  Something like Putin’s democracy in Russia.  This kind of mangled situation should be unacceptable for the EU."


SPAIN:  "Division Over Turkey"


Left-of-center  El País opined (9/25):  "Is the EU ready to admit Turkey?  With the recent enlargement of 10 new members...[the EU] needs to settle down and to create a nuclear core, boosting integral momentum before again geographically expanding.  Is Turkey ready?  It has made huge progress in its political and economical reform, but still has a long road to walk.  However, today that is not the issue.  A new rejection [of membership] could provoke a brake on these reforms and end the experiment of reconciling democracy and Islam."


"Western Turkey"


Conservative ABC editorialized (9/17):  "Islamic fundamentalists keep trying to destabilize Turkey with their terrorist blows.  They are trying to undermine Turkish laicism and prevent it from getting off the ground.  The worst news for them would be for an Islamic country to be able to definitely get westernized through its entry into the EU.  That is why the obstacles devised by France and Germany in order to prevent this from taking place are regrettable.  The shadow of Kemal Ataturk lengthens, but even longer is that of the national interests of a Franco-German axis that is trying to build a Europe according to its wishes.  The hypocrisy of their Europeism confirms itself again."


"The EU's Power"


Left-of-center El País concluded (9/16):  "The about-turn in Turkey is evidence of...the power of the EU to further the democratization of those seeking to join it....  Ankara's decision deserves praise...but Prime Minister Erdogan and his party should make it clear that the matter will not be raised again, because already this failed attempt has been a serious slip-up....  The European Council of Ministers is due to decide next December on whether to open negotiations with Ankara on its membership bid....  A refusal or an ambiguous offer...might bring about economic, political and social regression in Turkey....  The EU's responsibility is all the that (Turkey) is governed by an Islamist party whose adaptation to Europe and its secular values might...have a positive effect on a convulsed Muslim world."


TURKEY:  "Turkey Cannot Afford More Mistakes In The EU Process"


Selcuk Gultasli concluded in Islamist-intellectual Zaman (9/24):  “The last fifteen days were very stressful for Turkey.  All of Europe was discussing Turkey’s future membership in light of the adultery controversy.  Most EU members emphasized that Turkey ‘showed its real face’ in the adultery debate.  Meanwhile, Turkey tried to decipher what led to the prime minister’s course of action on the adultery issue.  In the end, the problem was apparently resolved with Verheugen’s comment that ‘there are no obstacles left for Turkey on its way to the EU.’  We have to evaluate this past 15 days from both positive and negative angles to figure out what it all means....  PM Erdogan’s strategy may have prevented the EU from presenting new conditions to Turkey.  The adultery crisis also has given us a chance to distinguish our supporters in Europe from those who oppose our membership.  On the negative side, PM Erdogan’s reliability in the eyes of EU members has been severely harmed.  This damage will linger long after the current crisis passes.  Therefore, the next three months are very critical for Turkey, and it is clear that Turkey cannot afford any more crises on the road to the EU.”


"Turkey On The Washington-Brussels Fault Line"


Hasan Mesut Hazar commented in conservative mass-appeal Turkiye (9/24):  “The artificial crisis with the EU ended during with the Erdogan-Verheugen meeting.  This was an expected development, which was confirmed by Verheugen when he announced that there are no obstacles left on Turkey’s path to the EU.  Washington is following closely the developments related to Turkey’s EU accession talks.  Up to now, we have managed to overcome problems on the path to the EU through the visible and invisible support of the United States, we understand the close U.S. interest in the matter.  Turkey’s EU venture always took place along the Ankara-Washington-Brussels fault line.  At every critical point, such as when Turkey entered the EU Customs Union, or when Turkey tried to implement the Copenhagen Criteria, Ankara always received Washington’s strong support.  However, this support has not ended speculation that Turkey was being forced to ‘choose’ between the U.S. and the EU.  The validity of this scenario is matter for debate.  First of all, the U.S. and the EU are not enemies but allies.  It is only natural that there will be differences on some policy issues.  But these differences never affect the strategic coordination between the U.S. and Europe.  Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we live in a world controlled by a single power--the U.S.  Moreover, the EU depends on the U.S. as well.  The strength of the NATO-EU-U.S. alliance is one of the most important pillars of the U.S. standing as a superpower.  Many EU countries feel closer to the U.S. than to the EU.  If it weren’t like this, the U.S. could not invaded Iraq in the face of strong opposition by France and Germany.  If we consider all these facts, we can see that Turkey has no problem in being ‘caught’ between the U.S. and the EU.  On the contrary, all of these arguments prove the value of the Ankara-Washington-Brussels line.  We can only hope that Turkey can show its potential more effectively as events move forward.”


"Last Tango In Brussels"


Derya Sazak stated in mass-appeal Milliyet (9/23):  “PM Erdogan is going to Brussels for the last tango.  Adultery or the EU?  If it hadn’t been for the AKP’s efforts to add adultery as a crime to the Turkish Penal Code, PM Erdogan’s Brussels visit would have been more like a holiday than an official visit.  Because the EU Commission had already prepared its report and, on October 6, would have recommended that Turkey begin accession negotiations in 2005.  AKP’s insistence on the adultery provision destroyed this plan.  After two and a half years of determined efforts, PM Erdogan, by his own hand, has pushed the EU project to the brink.  Some columnists warned the PM that if he insists on the adultery issue during his discussions in Brussels, it will be a big mistake.  If the Turkish Penal Code is not passed by the parliament before October 6 without the adultery issue, there will likely be some new conditions for starting negotiations.  During the last tango in Brussels, the prime minister shouldn’t play with Turkey’s destiny."


"Adultery Crisis"


Sami Cohen opined in mass-appeal Milliyet (9/23):  "How will the adultery crisis, which has recently topped the agenda of Turkish-European Union relations, be resolved?  To put it more correctly, will it be resolved?....  The European Commission wants the reform of Turkey's penal code (TCK) to keep the adultery article out.  The article would impose harsh penalties on those accused of adultery.  Unfortunately suspension of the reform bill because of the adultery issue at a time when negotiations were going well has led to serious problems in the Turkey-EU relationship....  Although the government and Parliament managed to overcome the most sensitive problems (the death penalty, Kurdish broadcasts, etc.), what is really surprising is that Turkey has stumbled over the adultery issue, which has only recently appeared on the agenda....  Another surprising and confusing issue is the argument voiced by the premier while defending the adultery amendment....  For example, he said Turkey had its own values and claimed the EU cannot interfere in Turkey's domestic affairs....  Erdogan's statement, which surprised many political circles in the EU and the media, but which amused the anti-Turkey circles within the union, has formed the essence of the current crisis....  Now Europeans are blaming Erdogan and his supporters for not properly understanding what the EU means....  That is to say, the current developments have shaken Europeans' trust in Ankara, and commentaries and adverse reactions in the Western media show it will not be easy to compensate the harm done....  Despite all this, it is the Turkish side which should take the initiative to immediately overcome the crisis as time is running out. Also, the EU should not close its doors to Turkey.  This may be a last chance for both sides--and it should not be missed."


"Crisis Deepens Over Penal Code Reform"


Ali Bayramoglu wrote in the Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak (9/22):  “The debate over the Turkish criminal code doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.  Despite what people emay be hoping, PM Erdogan has made it clearly understood that the Government has no intention of taking a step back on this issue and will not pay attention to EU demands.  He has laid out his action plan:  he will explain to the EU that their demands with regard to the penal code are illegitimate.  Whether this approach is realistic will only be determined at the end of his trip to Brussels.  But there is no reason to hold out much hope on the question.  In fact, quite the opposite....  Columnists, politicians, and experts are having a difficult time explaining this in the face of strong negative press coverage in Europe.  The problem is basically a sociological one.  Despite the fact that the AK Party, as a ruling national party, has taken revolutionary steps toward greater political rights and freedoms, it hasn’t been able to push ahead with similar measures on moral, traditional issues.  The ‘deep rift’ with regard to the EU stems from this.  We must also say that these recent events have been indexed directly to PM Erdogan.  He is the one who has been engaged and insistent on the adultery issue.  He is the one who blocked further debate on the criminal code, even over the objections of some ministers and despite the fact that the decision led to this difficult situation.  And if there is one person who represents AK Party and its soul, it is the prime minister.  At this point, the AK party group has fallen in behind the prime minister, and the friction and debate within the party have been put in abeyance.  What will happen under these conditions, and where this will lead is difficult to say.  Is there a way out of this?  Only time will tell.”        


"Bargaining With Brussels"


Ferai Tinc commented in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (9/20):  “PM Erdogan is going to Brussels this week.  I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes, because, even I was fed up with the foreign press’s questions on the Turkish Penal Code.  Some journalists asked me if Turkish family structure could harmonize with the European family structure.  Some others said ‘in Turkey honor killings are widely tolerated.  Do you think this is in harmony with Europe?’  None of these is true, however, and we don’t deserve this prejudiced thinking.  However, we are so successful in giving wrong messages that we just cannot give the right ones.  I would like to give the foreign journalists the story of the two female mayors in the southeast whom I met last week and explain how hard they are working to defend women’s rights, to better education, and explain how they are doing real good work in many other areas....  PM Erdogan is going to Brussels on September 23.  He is going to give the message that Turkey fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria.  But, if he decides to bargain in a conservative manner with Brussels with the examples that abortion is not available in Ireland or some other country negotiates gay marriages, etc., then he has no chances for success in bargaining with the EU.”


"One Man's Gain Is Another's Loss"


Gunduz Aktan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (9/17):  "The adultery issue has ended, just the way it started.  Even if had become law, it would have been annulled by either the Constitutional Court or the European Court of Human Rights.  However, the adultery debate also made everyone notice an important social disease, polygamy....  This penal code should include articles banning adultery and they should be implemented.  Such people should also have their right to elect and be elected rescinded.  If we had bad intentions, we could say that the EU disregard for polygamy was based on their objective to protect the high rate of population increase of Kurds, living in the southeast.  However, this polygamy issue will eventually be raised during the EU negotiation process.  The Copenhagen Political Criteria are all about freedoms.  In other words, the objective is to minimize the state's interference in people's lives, while recognizing differences.  It appears they did not think the inclusion of gender equality was necessary among the criteria, because it already existed as a Christian value.  However, for a Muslim country like Turkey, it is obvious that the status of women will be raised, as the European Court of Human Rights decision on headscarves shows.  The liberals in Turkey who support all types of differences have begun to voice their opposition to medieval practices.  However, some of them still continue to hope that 'change' will come without modernization or development.  They will learn."


"As The EU Constitution Is About To Be Signed"


M. Emin Kazci wrote in Islamist Vakit (9/16):  "Turkey's 'inferiority complex' vis-à-vis the EU manifests a submissive readiness to accept whatever conditions happen to be dictated by Brussels and a tendency to regard the EU as a civilization project rather than as a natural international cooperation project based on mutual interests....  Turkish ruling cadres also deserve scorn for their failure to ask EU officials how ready they are to coexist with Muslims, whether they will be able to free themselves from their historic and cultural prejudices toward Muslims and treat them as a society enjoying equal rights with Europeans if Turkey joins the EU." 




CANADA:  "Turkey's Penal Code"


The leading Globe and Mail commented (9/22):  "Mr. Erdogan's government has proved remarkably progressive, loosening restrictions on civil liberties, improving minority rights, abolishing the death penalty and undertaking numerous other social, economic and political reforms.  But Ankara's misguided attempt to criminalize adultery and its subsequent decision to withdraw a package of important penal-code reforms shows that religious conservatives still retain considerable clout within the governing party and are determined to exercise it....  The European Commission has warned that any delay in reforming a penal code with insufficient respect for human rights will sink Turkey's chances of getting its foot in the EU door.  Mr. Erdogan's initial response--that the commission should stay out of Turkey's internal affairs--does not bode well for future compromise.  But compromise he must.  For the sake of all Turks, Mr. Erdogan needs to resolve the internal party feud, keep infidelity out of the criminal courts and get his country back on the road toward a more open and humane society."


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