October 20, 2004
TURKISH EU CANDIDACY TRIGGERS 'VIRULENT' DEBATE IN FRANCE
** France's potential referendum is considered Turkey's "biggest hurdle."
** Supporters of Turkey's accession cite the country's "geo-political importance."
** Concerns over Turkey's "alien culture" remain.
'Main problem lies with the French attitude'-- European commentators noted that Turkey's potential accession to the EU crystallized "the explosive cocktail of French fears," resulting in "extreme" anti-accession arguments in France. Turkish papers, fearing a "race to raise the fears of the [French] people," criticized the "hypocrisy, irresponsibility, political immorality, dishonesty and betrayal" of French politicians. France's left-of-center Liberation pointed out that "double-talk" over the Turkish question was "invading the French political scene" and concluded that "the Turks will find themselves prisoners of France's malaise for some time to come." On a milder note, Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine predicted an eventual change in France's attitude, noting that "the French take to the floor very late."
Accepting Turkey means 'increasing the zone of stability'-- Optimists viewed Turkey's accession as an "opportunity for the West to embrace the Muslim world" and "make a common European foreign and security policy a reality." France's left-of-center Le Nouvel Observateur argued that "a gathering that includes Muslims" would be more effective in the fight against terrorism. Supporters also touted other gains for the EU, including a "young [Turkish] workforce, a huge market, and a [large] army." Despite some qualms over Turkey's Muslim identity, most global media hailed Turkey's accession as a potential "bridge-builder" both between the West and Islam and between Europe and Asia. Denmark's center-right Berlingske Tidende wrote that "Turkish membership would totally alter the EU's understanding of itself and its identity" but acknowledged that it would "represent the most courageous foreign policy initiative in the history of the Union."
Turkey is 'less European, more Asian'-- Anti-accessionists argued that "Turkey does not belong in Europe," because "the mindset and thinking of the Turkish people" differ from "the mindset and thinking of Europeans." Reacting to France's opposition, German papers observed that "the feeling has not yet disappeared how different religions make an imprint on cultures." Italy's business daily Il Sole-24 Ore agreed, noting that "through democracy [Turkey] has discovered itself to be more religious and sensitive to Islamic values." Critics expressed additional concerns that Turkey's accession would "maximize the strategic over-expansion of the EU and paralyze the Union in its ability to act on security policy issues," while others warned that "the assimilation of the Muslim Mediterranean heartland into a secular Europe" would be a "greater provocation" to fanatics such as Osama bin Laden.
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Gloria Kim
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 56 reports from 23 countries over 7 - 19 October 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
TURKEY: "Chirac is Punished over Turkey"
Mehmet Ali Birand wrote in the sensational-mass appeal Posta (10/19): “Turkey getting a date to start the negotiations on December 17 is not a certainty. The domestic confusion in France is placing great pressure on President Chirac. All his opponents aim to damage Chirac as much as possible. Some are trying to punish Chirac for saying ‘yes’ to Turkey. One will see that as the pressure on Chirac gets more intense, the number of those countries that are openly against Turkey’s membership will increase. Even today the affect of French opposition upon some EU members is felt.... There is a significant tension in France about Turkey. We hear different suggestions every day. One day groups in France ask for the negotiations to start in December 2005, while the next they suggest 2006 as the appropriate date. They have yet to agree on the matter. Most probably they will fail to reach any agreement until the last minute. They may produce a last-minute formula based on the latest domestic political considerations. It appears that December 17 will be a very exciting day.”
"Turkish Image In Europe"
Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in the conservative Turkiye (10/14): “The EU Commissioner Verheugen underlined the importance of Turkey’s accession to the EU by highlighting that the EU would become a global super power. Europeans in general, however, do not have such a vision. Their main concern revolves around the possible cost of Turkey’s membership. In addition, Turkey’s image in Europe is not good. The labor force from Turkey which went to Europe many years ago failed to establish a positive image vis-à-vis the Europeans. People from very conservative and remote parts of Turkey went to Europe to work and influenced the people negatively. The few Turks in the labor force in Europe with high qualifications have not made a significant difference to correct the image.... In such a short period Turkey has to exert every effort to correct this image. When we send delegations to European capitals, we should even think of excluding repellant characters."
"France Should Be Ashamed Of Itself"
Erdal Safak commented in center-right mass appeal daily Sabah (Internet Version, 10/14): "We should have been in the French Parliament today to follow the talks related to Turkey's EU membership and in order to see the most magnificent examples of hypocrisy, irresponsibility, political immorality, dishonesty and betrayal. The majority of the MPs, leftists or rightists, went to such extremes in their debates about Turkey, in the end, the loathing and voices of rebellion started to rise, even in the French press.... The opponents of Turkey will enter a race to raise the fears of the people to a higher pitch.... Even if these traps in the French Parliament are overcome, there is the voting next month in the European Parliament on the probable membership of Turkey. They say, 'It is not binding.' But what about its power of influence? We shall see. We could not believe it, but evidently the figure of speech made for explaining the level of the French politicians was true: 'Even if the electors are cannibals, they would promise a missionary for dinner without batting an eyelash.'"
"Now It Is Time For The Date"
Mehmet Ali Birand wrote in mass appeal-sensational Posta (10/8): “The relationship between Turkey and the EU is like a football match. The match began with the opening whistle at the EU Summit in Helsinki in 1999. It was a hard fought match.... The EU Commission report was chalked up as the opening goal, and the first half has ended with Ankara leading 1-0. The second half of the match will be played on December 17, again in Brussels. The opposing side will have different players this time. The 25 heads of state and government will take their places on the field. The second half will be even tougher than before, because many of the players on the other side are committed to eliminating the idea of Turkey’s membership in the EU.... The EU Commission gave the green light, but there is still a chance -- albeit a slight one -- that the member countries will forget about their promises on December 17. The main problem lies with the French attitude. … Under current conditions, it appears that there is no other serious opposition at the December 17 summit apart from France. However, France’s attitude may also change. In sum, Wednesday was an historic day for Turkey, but much more remains to be done.”
Hadi Uluengin wrote from Brussels in the mass appeal Hurriyet (10/7): “The next 70 days are significantly important for Turkey’s EU vision. Barring some kind of ‘train wreck,’ December 17 will be the day that Ankara will learn it can start accession negotiations in early 2005. There is no need quibble about the negative aspects of the EU commission report. The fact is that Turkey managed to overcome the first hurdle, and we all have to look on the bright side. Turkey should focus on successfully overcoming the next hurdle on December 17.”
"Conditions In The Report"
Sami Kohen noted in the mass appeal Milliyet (10/7): “There is a discriminatory approach in the report, especially on the issue of the free circulation of labor. Preventive measures on this issue are expressed in such a way that they could be permanent, a practice never applied to any other EU candidate. Such a condition might be a relief to the European public, but will certainly create uneasiness for Turks.… The report also says that ‘the outcome of negotiations cannot be guaranteed.’ This is another statement that will cause concerns in Turkey.… There is still a chance to eliminate those conditions or make them ineffective. It remains to be seen if EU leaders will take steps in this regard, or whether they will make the conditions even heavier. All of this calls for some very hard work by Turkish diplomacy.”
"A Revolutionary Process"
Ergun Babahan commented in the mass appeal Sabah (10/7): “This is a very important step, which has paved the way for the start of negotiations. Once the negotiations process is started with the EU, we are all going to witness a Turkey that is rapidly changing for the better. The result will be a democratic country with greater prosperity and contemporary values. We are going to see a revolutionary process of democratic change.”
"The EU Report And Sarkozy"
Fikret Ertan wrote in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (10/7): “The Commission report is not a surprise. Turkey completed the necessary reforms and has become eligible for the start of negotiations. This is an important decision, but one that should not be exaggerated. In fact, Turkey should focus on the next step, which will be more determinative and faces larger obstacles. One of the biggest hurdles is the ongoing referendum debate led by France. The Turkish public should get to know the important French political figure who initiated the whole referendum controversy -- French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who aspires to be President of France.”
"It Is Still A Long And Thorny Path"
Fehmi Koru wrote in the Islamist-opinion maker Yeni Safak (10/7): “The report contains some skillful diplomatic language. The EU Commission managed to address all of the various strains of thought in the Union. The upcoming process and the December 17 summit are the most important benchmarks for success. Turkey should shape its vision to be able to make the best gains out of the summit. The required steps for the success should be taken as soon as possible.… Turkey is aware of the fact that EU membership process is a long and thorny path. There have been some significant gains since the day Turkey officially applied to be a member, but even today the road is still long and rocky.”
BRITAIN: "The Coming Crescent"
Independent Economist editorialized (10/9): "Polls suggest that, in most EU countries, a majority of voters are against this matter, since there is a rising chance of some countries holding referendums on Turkish membership.... One implication is that it is now more urgent that Europe's political leaders persuade their voters of the case for expanding the EU. Most of them failed lamentably to do this in the run-up to the arrival of ten countries, mostly from central Europe, in May. The result was a rash of scare stories about the cost, in cash and in floods of immigrants. Add to such worries all the popular concerns about Islam, and there are sure to be far more scare stories about Turkish entry."
"Europe Would Be Foolish To Spurn The Advances Of The Turks Once Again"
An editorial in the center-left Independent judged (10/7): "Now that Turkey is close to passing the tests, the Islamophobic nature of some of the objections have emerged into the open. Hence the recent outbursts about Europe's 'culture and civilisation' being under threat.... But what is at stake is an immense prize. The existing EU will gain a young workforce, a huge market and an army that, for all its overbearing influence in Turkey, is big enough to make a common European foreign and security policy a reality. Most crucially, in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, this is an opportunity for the West to embrace the Muslim world and for individual EU states to bridge divisions with their own Muslim communities."
"Turkey - Come On In"
An editorial in the conservative Daily Telegraph asserted (10/7): "There is alarm at this prospect, especially in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Having turned back the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683, they ask, why should we be inviting them back into Europe? Will Europe not become awash with poor farmers, or open itself to more terrorism?... The Turks clearly have a long way to go before they are ready to join the EU. Their civil rights record, for instance, still leaves much to be desired. But they have done more than enough to deserve to begin membership talks.... And if the EU can make Islamists adopt democratic values, then it will have shown that its 'soft power' is as important as America's military 'hard power' in undermining the political base of Islamist terrorists."
"Why We Need Turkey To Join Europe"
Anatole Kaletsky argued in the conservative Times (10/7): “In the long run...[m]aking Turkey and ultimately the whole Mediterranean basin more European offers the best hope of reversing the spread of militan Islam and averting a global war of religion. In the short term, however, a great danger goes with this hope. For would not the successful assimilation of Turkish Muslims in European secular civilisation pose the ultimate challenge to the fundamentalist fantasy of a new Caliphate to rule over a reunited Muslim world? Would not the assimilation of the Muslim Mediterranean heartland into a secular Europe be an even greater provocation than the influence of American culture in Saudi Arabia to fanatics such as Osama bin Laden, who still laments the 'tragedy of Andalusia' and dreams of reinstating Muslim sovereignty in Spain?"
FRANCE: "Turkish Poison"
Alexis Bezet in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/15): “PM Raffarin convinced none of the opponents to Turkey during his remarks at the National Assembly.... In fact everything seems to indicate that the Representatives, boosted by their regional publics, will not give up.... The Turkish poison is at work in France’s political right...which could lead to a ‘no’ vote to the European Constitution. President Chirac is facing a major danger, because if the European Constitution is rejected, it is his mandate as President which may suffer.... One proposal has been for the President, on December 17, to demand that the negotiations either be on Turkey’s EU membership, or on a privileged partnership for Turkey.... Another offer is to ask for a postponement of the negotiations by two years. There is a third option which we dare not even consider, and which is to acknowledge that Turkey is not European, neither by way of its history, its culture or its geography. With this option we run the risk of opening a diplomatic crisis with Ankara. But would this not be more honest towards the Turkish people and a more responsible attitude vis-à-vis the European construction? And in the end would this not be more in keeping with the spirit of democracy?”
Jean-Michel Thenard editorialized in left-of-center daily Liberation (Internet Version, 10/15): "France is going to end up looking like the sick man of Europe. In the past the country of the Enlightenment, it set itself the task of spreading democracy and human rights, today it doubts itself, its values and its ability to spread them, so much that it fears losing its soul should the European Council decide in December to open negotiations with Turkey for its entry into the European Union.... A sign of the affliction is that in the matter of a few weeks the debate on Ankara's accession has become hysterical, because all France's current anxieties have become fixed on the foreign object that is Turkey. Anxieties about identity and social identity in the face of an enlargement that has not been come to terms with. So long as the Franco-German engine made the machine turn, Europe was reassuring, but Paris and Berlin no longer set the tone. And the new entrants also modify the economic order because it is now necessary to share the Brussels subsidies and compete with them for the precious commodity that is employment. As for the fact that Europe, which learned to count in algebra with the Arabs, is no longer Judeo-Christian, that ends up adding to the disquiet in these times when terrorism goes quickly hand in hand with Islamism. Turkey has thus ended up crystallizing the explosive cocktail of French fears. The government parties could have sought to educate and tried to persuade public opinion that Europe has everything to gain by counting in its ranks tomorrow a country of modernized, democratic Islam rather than a neighbor that would combat its values. With some notable exceptions, they renounced this. And they preferred to assemble yesterday in order all of them to propose to Turkey a "partnership," which has existed for. . . 40 years! It is what you call a debate for nothing. If not to drive you to despair that ulterior motives and constantly beating a retreat should serve to this extent as the compass for the national representatives."
"Being Careful About Turkey"
Jean Daniel in left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur editorialized (10/14): “Beyond all the arguments about Turkey’s EU membership.... I am surprised that no one has spoken up about Turkey’s pride. I fear that this well-known Turkish characteristic may put an end to our debate. As a reaction, the Turks could well say ‘well, if you do not want us…’ This is a reaction we must not ignore and which could lead Turkey to abandon all the sacrifices it has been willing to make with the hope of joining the EU. This would in turn give a weapon to the enemies of secularism.... The only way out is to immediately offer a privileged partnership to Turkey that would not preclude the outcome of the negotiations.... Let us never forget there are many ways of looking at a union with a large Muslim nation. We can choose to fear it, which leads nowhere. Or we can share with it the concerns of dealing with the new world disorder, caused by terrorism. We know that to fight this new blight we need a gathering that includes Muslims. And Turkey, by way of its strategic position and its recent history, will be called to play an essential role in the implementation of this fight.”
"Objections That Do Not Stand Up"
Alexandre Adler commented in center-right daily Le Figaro (Internet Version, 10/13): "The French public must not be told that Turkey's accession is only a minor matter, that presents no major risks, and that it will in any case take place in the very remote future. This, because such a message many increases the justifiable anxiety of a very intelligent, albeit not always very generous, people.... There are four main objections to Turkey's accession. None of them is valid. The first has to do with the scale of Turkey's population. This is constantly overestimated.... The second objection persistently cites a geopolitical threat. This is probably more serious. It is undeniable that Turkey's eastern borders are all unstable and tense.... People simply forget to point out, in this gloomy picture, that Turkey has been a member of the Atlantic pact since the 1950s and therefore of fully binding treaties that already link us to it on the juridical plane. On the moral plane, it is a different matter.... Now, for better or worse, Turkey is trying to coordinate more with the Paris-Berlin-Madrid axis rather than with the United States and Israel. This should reassure our stubborn anti-Atlanticists. The third objection has to do with the relative poverty of the country, whose convergence with the West European economy will be a long and complex process. Since this argument has not been cited in the case of Poland and Lithuania, or Romania and Bulgaria, it clearly has no validity in connection with Turkey. But there is an even more serious reason for rejecting it: as in the case of China, the general macroeconomic data do not take proper account of major regional differences. The last argument is Turkish Islam. No objection can be made about this."
"Turkey: French Hypocrisy"
Alain Duhamel commented in left-of-center daily Liberation (Internet Version, 10/13): "The Turkish question is invading the French political scene and causing embarrassment to many leaders. We do not feel sorry for them, because it is their constant hypocrisy on the subject that is now causing them problems.... However the president is not the only one using this double talk -- far from it. His successive foreign ministers...all appear to be in favour of Turkish membership while they are at the Quai d'Orsay [Foreign Ministry] but express much greater reservations, even frank hostility, once they step down. Another key instance are the most enthusiastic champions of a "yes" to the European Constitution -- the UDF [Union for French Democracy] for instance, and especially Francois Bayrou, who at the same time lead the camp opposed to Turkey's accession. Apart from the fact that they are fully aware that the manipulation of the Turkish question is the most popular argument in favour of a "no" to the European Constitution, they cite the objective of a political and federal Europe in support of their position. They carefully omit to say that, by so doing, they are deliberately exploiting the instinctive rejection of a major Muslim state, which is the automatic response of a large majority of French people. Voters acknowledge that they are allergic to the integration of over 70 million additional Muslims within the EU. As for the leaders, they nobly deny any such reflex responses, while reckoning on a rash political benefit. Nobody within the parliamentary right behaves honestly or consistently, to say the least. On the left, the supporters of a "no" to the European Constitution who also support a "no" to Turkey's accession are not without blame, either.... In other words, the only ones in France who are really sincere and open about the Turkish question are on the one hand the left-wing opponents of the European Constitution who advocate a "yes" to Turkey's accession (the Communist Party) and on the other hand the pro-sovereignty and far-right opponents of the Constitution who advocate a "no" to Turkey (the Villiers group [Movement for France] and the National Front.) At least they are consistent in their choices and clear about their motives. However, they are surely making a mistake about Europe and probably about Turkey, too."
"From the Heart"
Gerard Dupuy in left-of-center Liberation wrote (10/12): “Turkey’s candidacy to become a member of the EU has provoked an unusual French consensus against Turkey. What lies behind this massive rejection tends to prove that rational arguments for or against Turkey have less impact than what comes from the heart. While the issue is debated in all EU country’s, the debate is nowhere as virulent as it is in France and so much in opposition to Turkey. Chirac’s solitude on this issue, including within his own party, is somewhat frightening. But he has himself given a weapon against his own position by offering a national referendum. And so the Turks will find themselves prisoners of France’s malaise for some time to come.”
GERMANY: "Late Request To Take To The Floor"
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch noted in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/19): "The Turks often say Turkey has always been a European country, arguing that the Ottoman Empire ruled over wide parts of Europe.... But now the French of all nations are opposed to Turkey's full membership in the EU.... This has less to do with the fact that France was 'the first daughter of the Church,' but with the tradition of the French Revolution and with human rights questions. Obviously, the feeling has not yet disappeared how different religions make an imprint on cultures. Fewer people than elsewhere think that Turkey is a deeply democratic and secular state. Since Mitterrand's days, there has been a great interest in the Kurdish question, and one wants Ankara no longer to deny the atrocities against Armenians. But it is also true that the French take to the floor very late."
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich opined (10/19) : "In one discipline, Turkey is proving that it is worth becoming an EU member: in the art of wrapping. What the marketing experts in Ankara have managed over the past few months deserves respect. Ranging from Prime Minister Erdogan via Foreign Minister Guel to ambassadors and consul-generals, they all swarm out to get support from a Europe that is coy accepting Turkey. At the same time, journalists and ministers are invited to Turkey to see how beautiful the Anatolian suitor is.... The result of this offensive of charm is something to be proud of.... But the Erdogan government must still resolve one problem: It may have convinced Europe's governments, but Europe's voters remain skeptical. The louder the call for referenda on Turkey's accession, the more critical this mood could become for the government in Ankara. PR successes will not change this. What is now necessary is a long-term strategy. In the coming years, Turkey must still prove that nice appearances are not deceptive."
"Virtual Emergency Break"
Martin Halusa commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/7): "Turkey is not ready for becoming an EU member. The two sides are now talking on the same level, but it is Prime Minister Erdogan's turn. Fighting the conditions the EU set won't help him. The EU does not need Turkey, but Turkey needs the EU. Ankara applied, not Brussels. Ankara must prove that it is fit for Europe. Many promises of the Turkish government just exist on paper. It is Turkey's duty to realize them. If Turkey did not do its homework, the EU must pull the emergency break, which it has suggested now, but never used before."
"The Unpredictability Of Referenda"
Christoph Rabe noted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (10/7): "Europe faces a historical decision. If state leaders decided in December to give Turkey the go-ahead for accession talks it would start a process that will drastically change the EU, politically culturally and economically. But the current institutions are not suitable for coping with the new challenges. As a result, uneasiness about the borders and the power of a greater union is spreading. Europe's citizen have been feeling weird for sometime, since they believe ever more often that form and content of the integration is decided above their heads.... It does not come as a surprise that a majority supports the idea of referenda. People want to make the decisions themselves. But vague fears are bad advisors and politicians show weak spots when confronted with tricky decisions. The danger that populist slogans turn into blunt demagogy is great, given the emotions with which the issue is already debated."
"World Politics Requires Courage"
Juergen Gottschlich editorialized in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (10/7): "The decision was correct and good. It would have been even better, if the 'but' had not been so explicit… Those who want to pursue world politics require more courage than is necessary for refurbishing a town… To integrate Turkey would be active foreign policy. It would not fall into the EU's lap, but must be pursued and desired. Turkey's integration is the EU's greatest project that needs courageous politicians. An attitude of fear will not result in convincing politics. With the current course, announced by the EU Commission yesterday, the community risks to gamble away political success by its indecisiveness."
ITALY: "Turkey, Europe’s Goal"
Barbara Spinelli commented in centrist, influential La Stampa (10/17): “Turkey’s membership, if the upcoming summit between the heads of state and government approve the Commission’s proposals and if negotiations go in a propitious direction, will be Europe’s second biggest strategic decision, following the Union’s expansion to Russian borders...last May. With Turkey's accession, Europe will border with tumultuous but essential areas for world equilibria, which have until now been governed by the inconsistencies of the unilateral American force. These areas include Syria, Iraq, Iran, meaning the entire Middle East and a good part of central Asia. If Europe wants to avoid a clash between the West and Islam, it will have to show its inventiveness,...it’s anti-terrorist firmness, its institutional ideas and its plans for economic growth in those areas.... Turkey’s accession could be a formidable historical occasion to strengthen moderate Islam and to give Europe the decisive strategic dimension that it lacks today. And once again, as it showed in the expansion that took place last May, the European method for exporting democracy could turn out to be a world model.”
"The EU’s Test And Ankara’s Challenge"
Adriana Cerretelli opined in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (10/7): “To be or not to be is Europe’s question. The expansion from 15 to 25 countries still needs to be accepted and this dilemma is still tormenting EU governments.… By limitlessly expanding its borders west and south, the EU would disrupt its natural borders, de facto opening up to anyone who bears the minimum prerequisites for democracy, civil law, and a market economy.… The result would be self-defeating--at best giving way to a small UN, and at worst foiling plans for European integration. Post-religious Europe will now have to reckon with a Turkey that through democracy has discovered itself to be more religious and sensitive to Islamic values - principles that don’t always match up with European values of individual liberty, women’s and minority rights. How far can Turkey go in this unprecedented union between Islam and democracy? Is Europe ready to accept the fact, in 15 years, that its largest member will be Muslim? Turkey currently has a population equal to that of the EU’s ten newest members. In 10 to 15 years, it will have a population of 85-90 million.… Its decision-making power will be superior to that of France, Great Britain and Italy. This is why we shouldn’t be bewildered by Brussels’ qualified ‘yes’ to Ankara.”
RUSSIA: "Unwanted Guest"
Y. Kotov held in nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (10/19): "The EC commission has agreed to consider Turkey's application for EU membership.... The decision was made under strong pressure from the United States, which wants no more tension in relations with Turkey. Without Turkey, the Greater Middle East idea, that is, turning the Middle East into a sphere of predominantly U.S. interests, is unfeasible. The 'kneeling revolt' staged by the Turks when they wouldn't let U.S. troops transit their territory during the Iraq war for less than tens of billions of dollars, and their claim of control over Iraq's Kurdistan seriously scared the Americans. To stop the Turks from drifting further away, the Americans have decided to butter them up. True to its foreign policy tradition, Washington wants its allies to pay for its great ideas."
AUSTRIA: "The EU Is More Than Just A Club"
Erich Reiter, department head in the Ministry of Defense and expert for strategic studies, opined in a commentary in mass circulation provincial daily Kleine Zeitung (10/18): "The further development of the European Union hinges on its not being strategically over-extended. The Union's ability to make decisions and act on them depends on whether there is a consensus with regard to common goals and a common interest that goes beyond concrete national interests.... If Turkey joined the EU, this would maximize the strategic over-expansion of the EU and paralyze the Union in its ability to act on security policy issues. The transatlantic tensions between Europe and the U.S would be intensified, not alleviated, and the dependence on the U.S would not become less.... Finally, there is the fact that a Turkish EU membership would have no economic advantages, since Turkey already has a tariff union with the EU. From the point of view of security policy there is no need to act since Turkey is already a me
mber of NATO and as such firmly embedded in the European and transatlantic security policy."
"Image Boost Necessary"
Foreign editor for mass circulation daily Kurier Livia Klingl wrote (10/18): "So far, the EU has reacted to its citizens' concerns mostly by ignoring them. Ankara should not take the EU as a model in this regard. Turkey ought to have the greatest interest in improving its own image. Poland, which also labored under a bad image prior to its EU accession, did quite a lot to remove existing tensions in its relations with the future 'family members'.... The Turkish ambassador to Germany has already taken sensible measures: He asked the Turks who live in Germany to pursue integration. Many people in Austria and France wish for the same. After all, goodwill -- not just action -- also counts."
"Only The Negotiators Can Exert Pressure"
Chief editor for mass circulation weekly News Peter Pelinka wrote (10/14): "Aside from many bad reasons, there are also a number of good ones to oppose Turkish EU membership.... But this does not mean that one may reject membership negotiations from the start. Apart from the moral aspect (for years the EU has been dangling the membership carrot in front of the Turks' noses and in 1999, the beginning of negotiations was agreed by the EU in Helsinki), there is also a strategic argument to be considered. Motivated by the prospect of an EU membership, Turkey has made considerable progress of late - economically and with regard to its democratic development. To shut the door in its face now would not only strengthen the mainly Islamic-fundamentalist opponents of this process, but also rob the EU of the possibility to continue to exert influence in an extremely sensitive area - a consideration that was behind the extremely successful détente policy with the communist dictatorships in the past."
"What Drowns Out The Shrill Overtones"
Editor for independent daily Der Standard Eva Linsinger opined (10/7): "The negotiations with Turkey will take a long time, possibly close to a decade. This ought to suffice to drown out the shrill overtones made up of prejudices and real difficulties through good negotiation results. And it should suffice to come to understand what a Turkish EU membership really means: A chance to reduce the conflict between the 'western' and the 'Muslim' world. It may still turn out that, with Turkey, the EU has bitten off more than it can chew. However, it is equally possible that many fears and reservations will be allayed in the course of long and successful negotiations - and that in a few years the announcement that Turkey will join the EU is going to be made in a calm spirit and without loud side noises, as is now the case with the addition of Romania and Bulgaria."
BELGIUM: Turkey Must Fully Embrace Values On Which Europe Has Been Built"
Political commentator Yves Desmet in independent De Morgen (10/7): "Although the conservative Islam is expanding in Turkey--just like everywhere in the Arab world--Turkey is a model of a modern secularized Islamic state. A large number of European leaders think that it is geo-strategically important to keep Turkey in the EU. That will be a motivation to lead that country further into modernity--an era with which many Muslims elsewhere in the world have serious problems. The opposite scenario--Turkey outside the EU - might make the Turkish people more sensitive to the plea of the ayatollahs and fundamentalist imams. That is a very pragmatic and not at all stupid reasoning that weighs heavier than other arguments. It is true that it is difficult to admit a new country after the recent major enlargement and, at a given moment, we will have to say where Europe ends. But, we must not skip the chance to make Islam European. That means that Turkey must fully embrace the values on which Europe has been built since the Enlightenment and that it must put an end to archaic traditions--like blood feud and honor murders of women--that are still common in the countryside."
"Turkey's Integration Into EU Is Big Problem"
Foreign affairs writer Roger Van Houtte in Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (10/7): "Turkey is expected to have a population of 90 million people in 2025. That means that it will be entitled to the highest number of representatives in the European Parliament and all other European institutions. Turkey will be the largest state before Germany and a major power while it devours a gigantic share of the means. That is the reality.... The European leaders know that there is no majority (for Turkey's EU membership) among the people in many countries--although the governments say something else. If the EU still has some respect for the democratic principle, it should take into account the European citizens' opinion."
"Where Does Europe Stop?"
Philippe Berkenbaum judged in independent Le Soir (10/7): "Where does Europe stop? How will it deal with its borders tomorrow - borders with the Caucasian and Middle East powder kegs, with Iraq and Iran? How will it deal with the numerous cultural, religious, social, economic and ethnic diversities?... To date, the enlargements have only lead to a dilution of the European project on a market without borders whose only determination seems to be prosperity. Before the EU says 'Yes' to Turkey Europe must make a choice: economic empire or political power? If it continues to opt for the second goal, it must try to reach it very quickly and consolidate it seriously - if it does not want to wind up in pieces when the next enlargement takes place."
CYPRUS: "Attila's Reward"
Right-wing, nationalistic Simerini noted (10/7): "Essentially, it is a [business] transaction on the part of the EU and a reward for a country, which, besides oppressing its citizens, the Kurds and other minorities, has invaded Cyprus and continues to occupy 37% of its territory. Greece wants Turkey in Europe for obvious reasons--without putting a single condition or term concerning Greco-Turkish affairs and the Cyprus issue. It was expected that the suggestions of the Cypriot Commissioner either about the Attila, the settlers or the blatant violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights would not have been taken into account. This is a farce! The Commission President and the Enlargement Commissioner are talking about democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms in full and deliberate lack of recognition of the continuing occupation of Cyprus by a country which aspires to join the EU.... Because of their interests, our partners decided that big Turkey mattered more than democracy, human rights and occupied Cyprus... Nothing has been finalized yet and it is not certain that once the accession negotiations start, they will be concluded. What's left is next December's decision by the leaders of the EU 25 member-states. Until then, the political leadership of Cyprus should decide how Cyprus could utilize the new historic developments which could possibly affect us in a catalytic manner."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Turks Must Prove That They Belong To Europe"
Michal Mocek asserted in the centrist, leading MF Dnes (10/7): "The candidacy of Turkey, led by the chairman of a moderate Muslim party, should remind Europe that Islam and terrorism are two different things. If governments in EU countries are headed by Christian democrats, why could they not be headed by Islamic democrats? It is not religion but democracy, in political parties and in governance, that counts. However, democracy in Turkey is a matter, which continues to raise doubts. Is Turkey a democracy or is democracy a mere 'Turkish facade?'... The Turks simply have to prove to Europe that the military no longer rules in their country, not even from the background, as was the case throughout most of the 20th century. Before entering the EU, Ankara has to guarantee that torture and other state-sanctioned crimes against human rights are no longer among the instruments of state power, something that some humanitarian organizations say is still the case now. Moreover, Turkey must secure the rights of the Kurdish minority which until recently faced strong repression. There seems to be enough time. According to estimates, the Turks will join the EU in 2015-19. This is a remote future. However, we must form it now if we want to succeed."
DENMARK: "Turkey Could Change The EU Forever"
Center-right Berlingske Tidende carried the following op-ed by editor, Clement Behrendt Kjærsgaard (10/19): “Will the EU be able to change Turkey before Turkey changes the EU? The influx of 71 million Turks into the European Union could have more of an impact that many of the much discussed treaties of recent years. Turkish membership would totally alter the EU’s understanding of itself and its identity.... Turkish membership would represent the most courageous foreign policy initiative in the history of the Union."
GEORGIA: "Turkey Invited To The European Union"
Pro-reform daily Resonance (10/8) reported: “European politicians tend to forget that Turkey is the most developed and most democratic among all the Islamic countries. This reason alone makes accepting Turkey into the EU worthwhile, so that the democratic way of thinking finds ground to flourish. Turkey has developed rapidly as a result of Progressive-minded Mustafa Jemal Ataturk’s coming power in early 1920’s. He implemented bold reforms across the country while Nazism was gaining momentum in many of the European countries. It goes to Ataturk’s credit that the country’s Islamic structures function independently from the authorities; therefore Turkey is not like Iran.... Turkey has received an official invitation to the European Union. Now it is up to our neighbors to convince Strasburg that Ankara can be a reliable partner. It is noteworthy that Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan is a serous politician who has never had difficultly promoting Turkey to the international community.”
GREECE: "The Terms Of Turkey’s EU Accession"
The lead editorial in influential independent Kathimerini held (10/7): “It is no coincidence that a debate on Europe has heated up in France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and other European countries: What’s Europe’s future? What would Turkey’s membership suggest about Europe’s limits and identity? Is Turkey a European country? Would its accession mark the bloc's expansion into the Arab world, the Caucasus, or Israel? Unfortunately, the Greek public has yet to be drawn into this very interesting debate.”
"Ankara’s ‘Hostage’ Status And What It Means For Greece"
Writing in influential pro-opposition To Vima managing editor and commentator Yiannis Kartalis said (10/7): “The EU Commission’s report places Turkey in an unusual hostage status. It recommends the commencement of accession talks, but sets extremely harsh conditions, which means that the talks can stop at any given time.… It is obvious that Greece, which recently reiterated its support of Turkey’s European orientation, benefits from the Commission’s terms: It will now be extremely hard for Turkey to threaten Greek territorial rights, or to continue on its unilateral territorial claims because the Greek side will, at any given time, have the option to request that accession talks stop on the grounds that Ankara does not fulfill its commitments.”
HUNGARY: "'Black Soup' Is Yet To Come"
Writer Andras Petocz expounded in top-circulation, liberal Nepszabadsag (10/19): “I think Turkey’s membership in the Union is not a European but rather a short-term American interest. Strategic consideration drive the strategy that is trying to establish zones of influence in the Middle East in a way that, inevitably, hurts interests, moreover, sometimes even violates human rights.... In the long term it may be in the interest of the United States to have a unified and economically strong partner and ally with a culturally similar background. Today, [the United States] fails to see this, and therefore it is attempting to divide the European Union. For example, by granting visa waiver to some countries in the Union, while denying it to others.... In reality, what is behind the Turkish issue is the debate that has, up until now, been swept under the rug over what the Europe of the future should be like. Should it be a federal alliance of states where European citizens have equal rights, and which is, economically and culturally, able to compete with China and the United States? Or should it just be a loosely linked common market where only money, but not citizens, have rights?”
"Turks In Front Of The Gates"
Public writer Sandor Timar opined Magyar Nemzet (10/8): “I was surprised to see that the positive argumentation [in favor of Turkey’s accession] that ought be based primarily on economic facts and prognoses, as the EU is primarily an economic organization, is rather flimsy.... Deficiencies in the Turkish legal system, police torture as an interrogation method, discrimination against women, problems with the Kurds feature prominently among the obstacles.... Turkey has never been part of Europe…[and] the more significant authors (Spengler, Toynbee, Huntington) place it in a civilization and cultural zone that is separate from the European one.... Although there is a considerable stratum of merchants present in society, one still cannot speak of a true middle class. More than 90% of the population are Muslims.... Last but not least, what is the opinion of Russia, which had such a hard time accepting the loss of the Baltic countries, going to be?.... Although at the moment Russia is a second-class military power, compared to the EU it is still huge, and one does not know what the future might bring. Why should [the European Union] be burdened with the problems of integrating a country with an alien culture?”
"Turkey: Pros And Cons"
Foreign news writer Ferenc Kepecs concluded in pro-government Nepszava (10/7): “It is not a simple political issue whether Turkey should or should not become member of the EU. Rational arguments will not be decisive. But what kind of arguments will then decide? For the opponents the most important, and for the people the most convincing, argument is that Turkey does not belong in Europe. Not geographically, which is a less important issue. More important, in this group’s opinion, that the mindset and thinking of the Turkish people is less European, more Asian. And another important aspect here is that the Turkey is a Muslim country. But those who support Turkey’s membership insist that the mindset and thinking of the Europeans wasn’t always European either: just consider the religious wars, the inquisition movement or Nazi rule. Skeptics claim that once Turkey becomes member of the EU, the EU will share borders with the biggest crisis regions in the world: Iraq and the Middle East. Do we want this, they ask. The answer could be yes, because with EU expansion the scope of stability and welfare expands as well. There have been well-established arguments for and against Turkey’s membership. Consequently, the people will not decide on the base of these arguments. They will decide according to their gut feelings.”
IRELAND: "Turkey's EU Bid Threatened"
Denis Staunton wrote in the center left daily Irish Times (10/12): “Cyprus has threatened to block any EU move to start membership talks with Turkey unless Ankara recognizes the Greek Cypriot state and starts withdrawing troops from northern Cyprus.... Austria also expressed misgivings about opening negotiations with Turkey, suggesting that the European Commission should make a further study of the impact of Turkish EU membership before EU leaders make a final decision on starting talks in December.... The Turkish prime minister, Mr Tayyip Recep Erdogan, said he hoped EU leaders would agree to start negotiations without imposing conditions.... Cyprus has been divided since Turkey's invasion of the island in 1974 and Ankara has never recognized the southern Republic of Cyprus. Greek Cypriot diplomats argue that no country should be allowed to start the process of joining the EU if it fails to recognize one of the existing member-states.”
"EU Role For Turkey Would Boost Middle East Democracy"
Paul Gillespie commented in the center left daily Irish Times (10/9): “In Turkey the European Commission's favorable but tough report on whether negotiations on joining the EU should start with Ankara next year was widely greeted. Members of the moderate Islamist governing party, business and trade union leaders, women's organisations, leaders of the Kurdish minority and sections of the armed forces welcomed it. There was a more sceptical response from secular nationalists in the army, bureaucracy and in right-wing parties which defend Turkey's sovereignty against outside encroachment. They suspect the EU agenda of democracy and minority rights is part of a devious and abiding international conspiracy to weaken and divide their state. These differing reactions are instructive in evaluating the merits of the Commission's case for Turkey's eventual accession to the EU. Turks can be remarkably quick to take offence from Brussels, having been on the receiving end of hostility and prevarication for over 40 years on their application to join - and more particularly through the 1990s.... The EU is seen as an agent of change by many of the forces in Turkish society who want to transform this Kemalist inheritance by combining it with religious, cultural and ethnic diversities persisting from the Ottoman past.... Turks in favor of EU membership are quick to recognize Christian prejudice against their country and keen to distance themselves from a clash of civilizations.... The AKP is deeply rooted, very ably led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and represents a new political generation anxious for change. Its foreign policy positions have also adapted, notably on Cyprus, relations with Greece and on Iraq. Turkish co-operation with the US invasion was withdrawn after a free parliamentary vote in March last year.
"EU's Yes To Turkey Draws Mixed Response"
Derek Scally opined in the center left daily Irish Times (10/8): “There were mixed reactions yesterday among commentators in Turkey and Germany, home to some two million Turks, to the European Commission recommendation to open EU entry negotiations with Turkey. The front page headline of Hürriyet, Turkey's best-selling newspaper was clear: ‘Dankeschön Verheugen’ it said in gratitude to the EU enlargement commissioner, Mr Günter Verheugen.... Germany's conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine, called it a ‘fateful day’ for the EU, adding that Turkey's accession could ‘destroy the European house as we know it’. One should say honestly to the European people: this is not about an 'enlargement' of the EU but a 'transformation.’ Austria's Die Presse agreed, calling the Turkey debate ‘absurd.' Germany's Die Tageszeitung praised the Commission's ‘good and right’ recommendation, adding it would have preferred a ‘slightly smaller 'but'."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Brussels' Gliding Flight"
Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (10/7): "The way the EC advice was made public is typical for the EU decision making process. That is with a 'gliding flight'...the first thing that should be said about the Turkish issue is that one should hope that the EU would never again work this way in such sensitive and controversial issues. Instead of broadening the debate, the Copenhagen criteria served as a muzzle...however, the objections against the EU decision-making process does not mean that the EC advice should be taken in a negative way. Turkey is not yet a model constitutional nation, but it is heading in the right direction. There are still substantial problems, but no fundamental objections against Turkish-EU membership. And those problems fade against the geo-political importance of incorporating a Muslim, but secular state into Europe."
"Turkey As A Model State"
Left-of-center Trouw opined (10/7): "Seldom before did Europe face such a difficult dilemma as having to decide whether Turkey can become a member of the EU.... But there is one argument that overshadows all others: in the Islamic world we do see a trend to blame the West for their problems and therefore wanting to destroy the West. Let's not have illusions about our apparent safe backyards: the threat is huge. But that is exactly why we should take the Turkish membership seriously. Here we have a country with a mainly Islamic population that has been following the Western course for the past eighty years.... The U.S. tried to bring democracy to the Islamic world through fighting a war in Iraq. There are doubts about both this course and its result. Europe now has an opportunity to bring democracy to the Middle East in a better way. Those who want to pass on this opportunity have a lot of explaining to do."
POLAND: "In The Interest Of Poland"
Marcin Bosacki wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/7): “Should Poland support Turkey in the European Union? Yes, because expanding the EU with Turkey means...increasing the zone of stability and stable democracy. And all the more so as it is a Muslim country! Yes, because Poland can gain in Turkey a partner that shares our thinking about EU policy toward Russia, Ukraine, and the Middle East. Yes, because the example of Turkey - a country that is poor and, until recently, not fully democratic - increases the chances that Ukraine, and possibly Belarus, will become part of the common Europe, which is in the fundamental interest of Poland.”
ROMANIA: "European Turkey"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press commented (10/7): "Keeping Turkey out of the EU will not prevent the creeping Islamization of Europe. Welcoming it, however, will help make that process workable. The Turks have long looked to the West for a home. If they are not welcomed now, they will look to the East, to a Muslim world that will embrace them and which is far less friendly to Europe and the West."
SLOVAKIA: "Turkey And Europe Have A Chance To Get Closer"
Editor Jana Mikusova reported from Istanbul in her analysis in the influential center-right daily SME (10/7): “EU commission expertise opens the door for Ankara’s entry to the union. Turkey and Europe have to settle basic matters.... Observers say if politicians don’t want to contradict themselves, they have to say yes to Turkey’s entry.... EU country leaders face skepticism, even public reluctance, regarding Turkey’s entry. That’s why they keep repeating that the acceptance is only preliminary and that definite entry has to be ratified by each member country. They are saying that the Turkish invasion of the European job market can be stopped at any time, even more effectively than in the cases of the countries that entered the EU in May.... Europe’s distrust is invoked by Turkish attempts to incorporate law that comes from Islamic law.... It would be good if Turkey and Europe would get politically as well as culturally closer than they are now.”
"Obstacle For Turkey"
Columnist Miroslav Caplovic commented in a byliner in the influential center-left daily Pravda (10/7): “The EU would like to open a door for Turkey. But...if Ankara meets the entry requirements there would be only one obstacle remaining - a referendum in several EU member countries. Is this a nice attempt to give citizens an opportunity to express their opinion about an EU matter of principle, or is it an attempt to shift the responsibility from the shoulders of politicians who don’t know how the union would work with the Turkish giant? Whatever, it’s evidence that there is a different approach to Ankara than to any other union member.”
SWEDEN: "Half A Go-Ahead For Turkey"
Independent, liberal Stockholm morning Dagens Nyheter asserted (10/7): “It is not a straight path that has been staked out for Turkey. There will be checkpoints, and if the reform process is discontinued, membership negotiations will stop. The EU is trying to include Turkey and keep its distance at the same time.... Now Ankara has entered the train. What is central is that the process continues and that Turkey, which is fulfilling EU’s membership demands, also be allowed into the warmth. In this regard, Turkey ultimately should be treated like all the other countries.”
“Do Not Turn The Back On Turkey”
Conservative Stockholm morning Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (10/7): “One should not be upset over the fact that Turkish EU membership excites people: major issues always create backwash.... Turkey is more Asian than European. Yesterday’s message from the EU Commission, therefore, is a reminder that the EU is a common political value-system, not a church or a geographically defined state.... The fact that Turkey has chosen the European road is in our interest. As a matter of fact, a successful integration may be the best method to stop Turkey from entering the Islamic path. Turkey might thereby be a bridge-builder and a model for a democratic Muslim state.”
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Can Turkey Bridge East-West Gap?"
An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald observed (10/18): “Turkey has in recent years made great strides - economically, politically and socially - towards becoming a modern Islamic democracy. With the benefits of EU membership as the prize, that process should accelerate during the years of negotiation. A successful conclusion would be of immense symbolic significance, making Turkey a bridge between civilizations. It is certainly a more hopeful course than the one the US and its allies have been pursuing elsewhere. Negotiations, however long and difficult, tend to be more productive than invasions.”
JAPAN: "Turkish Accession To EU Likely To Draw New Picture Of Europe"
Liberal Mainichi editorialized (10/18): "As a condition of Turkey's accession to the European Union, the EU Commission will ask Ankara to improve many areas of democratization, such as respect for human rights, equal opportunities for women, protection of minorities and freedom of press and religion. Despite some progress toward Turkey's membership, some European countries remain deeply suspicious, saying Turkey is 'too big, too poor and too Muslim.' However, the U.S. and the U.K., who do not favor the dominance of member nations France and Germany, support Ankara's bid because its participation could weaken the overall influence of the union. Despite conflicting interests among member countries, the EU Commission has kicked off discussion of Turkey's membership because of concerns about the nearby presence of such a large Islamic country. When drawing a picture of the EU, member nations need to recognize the importance of Turkey as a country bridging Europe and Asia, as well as western culture and Muslim beliefs."
"Cultural Differences Complicate Turkish Accession"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai's Brussels correspondent remarked (10/7): "European discussion of Turkey's entry into the EU has been repeatedly marked by arguments that the Islamic state is 'too big and too different,' stressing that the nation's membership is likely to have a significant impact on the entity as well as on the history of European integration.... Turkey is significantly different from other members in terms of its cultural background. A decision by the EU on possible admission would determine whether the organization would remain as a framework based on shared Christian values or become a community embracing different cultures and religions."
VENEZUELA: "Turkey And The European Union"
Columnist Rafael Arráiz Lucca wrote in leading liberal daily El Nacional (10/18): "If Turkey succeeds in joining the EU, the European club would admitting a republic of nearly 70 million inhabitants and a monotheistic religion, like Catholicism and Protestantism, but of a different sign. It would be the first Muslim country to join the European Union. I am very enthusiastic about the process that started last week, after Turkey requested its accession to the EU, some years ago. I find in this process a new European lesson that can be extended to the whole world and that can be emulated in every sense. Plurality, respect for differences, coexistence, representative democracy about to assume increasingly participatory features, market-based economy, open societies, responsible liberty, are some of the values on which the European miracle is based."
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