December 20, 2004
TURKEY IN THE EU 'COULD HELP BRIDGE GAP' BETWEEN WEST, ISLAMIC WORLD
** Enthusiasts see Turkish EU accession as a step bridging the gap between West and Islam.
** Skeptics note 10-15 years of talks lie ahead and that Turkey "must evolve" further.
** Turkish media support entry to EU club but worry they will be up a "second-class" member.
A 'risky' but necessary challenge-- Dailies backing Turkey's accession into the EU said the Union "has done itself a great favor by accepting Muslim Turkey as an applicant." The entry of Turkey would "help bridge the chasm between Islam and the West." Optimists predicted a "stronger" geopolitical role for an EU expanding its borders to the Middle East and Caucasus. Spain's left-of-center El País concluded that "a long process [has] started that will mark a new destiny for the EU: greater cultural diversity, a new and complicated neighborhood, and a new size." Austria's mass-appeal Kurier said Turkish accession could "turn out to be an opportunity for a 21st-century Europe" defining itself as "a single European market [with] shared political principles" of democracy, human rights and minority rights.
'Difficult part still to come'-- Papers noted that the "tough" conditions imposed by Brussels on the agreement to negotiate Ankara's EU entry shows "how much Turkey needs to evolve." The EU "has never before" set such rigorous conditions on a candidate state, noted Germany's financial Handelsblatt; it is doing so now because of "Turkey's great need to assimilate European standards." Even supportive outlets such as France's left-of-center Liberation conceded that "the negotiations may not be enough to help Turkey achieve its mutation" towards a state with greater respect for human rights and the rule of law. Though some termed the conditions "humiliating" towards Turkey, critics thought them too lenient, charging that the EU had "undermined its standards" and set aside "its principles." Opponents of Turkish accession warned it is "impossible to integrate" a large, Muslim land like Turkey into Europe. Other writers warned of growing "distrust" toward "hasty" EU expansion among voters and argued that the EU is "groping forward" without a "clear strategic plan."
A 'turning point'-- Prior to the agreement on negotiations for future entry, one Turkish tabloid cautioned against getting "lost in the details"; the important thing, Posta stated, "is to sit at the table and start the process," predicting that foreign investment would "start to flow" afterwards. After the Brussels summit, commentators complained about the "disturbing" conditions, contending that Turkey would be relegated to "second-class membership" if they were made permanent. "The end of the process had been clouded right from the start by implying a 'special status' for Turkey," judged mass-appeal Hurriyet. Islamist Zaman agreed that the agreement's "negative elements" made it difficult to say if Turkey eventually would be "stopped on the outskirts of Brussels," but termed the summit "an historic event" that strengthened "the flame of reform, which has been burning for the last two years in Turkey."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
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 38 reports from 18 countries December 13-20, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Turkey's Moment Has Arrived"
The independent Financial Times took this view (12/13): "Embracing Turkey, a democratic, secular republic with a Muslim majority and an advancing economy, would come to rank with the EU's highest achievements. The European project not only devised a new formula for the rational pursuit of national interest after centuries of intra-European blood-letting but, with its post-war expansion, cleared away the residue of fascist dictatorship in south Europe and the Stalinist regimes of east Europe. Today's opportunity to help bridge the chasm between Islam and the West--through a country embedded in the history of Europe and Christendom as well as Islam--is a challenge of equal magnitude."
FRANCE: "The Orient And Its Three Sites Under Construction"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (12/20): “Are Islam and democracy compatible or can they never mix? The West is haunted by the fear of a conquering Islam.... Trying to link Turkey to Europe and in so doing proving that Islam is compatible with civil liberties is a major challenge. If we achieve this, the Orient will have been changed. But if we do not try, the negative message sent to all Muslims would be tantamount to encouraging the ultra-radicals.”
Patrick Sabatier commented in left-of-center Liberation (12/17): “At least for the time being, courage has prevailed...even if, as Turkey’s supporters believe, the negotiations may not be enough to help Turkey achieve its mutation.... The test of compatibility between Islam and democracy is far from conclusive. Turkey’s EU membership is indeed a challenge, and a risky challenge at that. But the risk needs to be taken in the name of geo-strategic imperatives.... Europe will be re-enforced through its union with a secular nation which is young, eager to succeed, militarily strong and experienced in handling crises emanating from a region which is among the most threatening for Europe. We must therefore take on the Turkish challenge and show daring.”
"Europe Is A Yes-Man"
Ivan Rioufol declared in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/17): “Something is not right with Europe and its readiness to sell short both its culture and its history simply to be agreeable to an economic partner which does not hide its attachment to a ‘moderate Islam.'... Are the Turkish people ready to give up the immutable law of the Koran which threatens anyone who converts with death? Are they ready to question the Islamic dogma which says that all Christians and all Jews are inferior humans? In the name of a goody-goody attitude, Europe doesn’t even ask itself these questions.... An insidious indoctrination wants to convince us that Islam, the force of peace, will save Europe. On the condition that it associate with Turkey, ‘the rampart against Islam'...western leaders are ready to accelerate Europe’s ‘de-Christianization’ in order to avoid a clash between civilizations. In short, Europe is ready to sell its soul in exchange for peace.... Its leaders are betting, with their eyes closed, on the secularization of Turkey’s values, ways and rules through contact with the West, when in reality they have no guarantees that this will happen.... France, through its President and in its desire to consolidate its ties with the Arab-Muslim world, is taking the same risk it took with the Iraqi crisis. But this time the French are not following their President. The complicity they shared in their opposition to the Americans is over.... Ghaddafi himself says that Turkey will be 'the Trojan Horse ‘ of the Islamic world for the EU.”
GERMANY: "The Old Turkish Fear"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich editorialized (12/20): "Even though there were confetti and fireworks, there is a lack of enthusiasm in Turkey about the EU decision to begin entry talks. The old fear that Europe might say no in the end to a far-off and alien Turkey holds back euphoria over the EU decision to open the gates. No one forgets to emphasize that the difficult part for Turkey is still to come. The near-miss at the Brussels meeting over the Cyprus question shocked participants and got them down to earth again. For 30 years the conflict on the island has been part of Turkey's unresolved problems in foreign policy. The bloody clash between the two nations is deeply embedded in Turkey's national consciousness. As a result, even the reform-oriented Erdogan government fearfully sticks to the status quo, although it had supported the UN peace plan last spring. Since the plan faltered due to the Greek Cypriots, Ankara simply points at them, risking its EU ticket before validating it. The Damocles sword hangs over Ankara's EU talks if the conflict were not resolved. The president of the Cypriot Greeks has it in his hands and can always find allies in the EU to put the brakes on Turkey's accession."
"The Long Way"
Jochen Hoenig commented in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (12/20): "The EU has never before set so tough conditions in its long history like for Turkey. This mirrors Turkey's great need to assimilate European standards. But the restrictions also mean the EU is very carefully approaching the new tasks, given the huge differences between advocates and opponents of a Turkish entry. There is a great deal of talk about measures to protect EU interests. Above all, the EU said--for the first time at the beginning of entry negotiations--that it could suspend the talks if Turkey reverses its political reforms."
"Farewell To Cozy Europe"
Wolfgang Proissl observed in business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (12/20): "Europeans must get used to look over their horizon. Almost unnoticed by Europeans, the EU turned into a stability anchor and global player, representing one pole in a multipolar world, which is not a French fantasy but reality. In monetary, competition and trade policies, the EU meets the U.S. as an equal partner. That is not yet true for foreign policy, but Europe's influence is rising, as its interventions in the Iranian nuclear crisis and the election fraud in Ukraine showed. The EU is growing to become a creative factor in foreign politics. In neighboring regions of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Africa, the EU has an interest in stability, growth, democracy, and an increase in its influence. The EU must learn to make these interests a foundation of its policy. Judging the EU decision on Turkey against this background, one must conclude that it was right. Any other option would have been less in Europe's interest."
Matthias Kamann noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (12/18): "Europe's government leaders want to increase the power of the EU in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but they are undermining the foundation of their power; its belief in international law and the democratic rule of law. To be able to enlarge the EU as quick as possible, heads of states and governments expressed their understanding for almost any Turkish desire. As a result, the Turkish government managed to water down basic conditions for beginning entry talks: the newcomer must acknowledge all members of the community.... The hasty expansion goes on. Criteria for the democratic rule of law are generously interpreted for Romania, and in Croatia, the community raises hopes for membership before the country fully complies with the International Court. The EU is undermining its standards in all of these cases and substitutes its principles by lofty fantasies about great territories. Europeans are looking for more power but become weaker and weaker."
ITALY: "The New Eurasia Power"
Barbara Spinelli opined in centrist, influential La Stampa (12/19): “Even though EU expansion to Turkey will take place in 10-15 years...Europe is already beginning to gear up for what will probably be its new makeover, its new reason for being. This makeover will change us and the Turks.... The Union will not stop being Europe, because Turkish history is connected to that of the old world. The expanded EU will border with the south Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan) and Syria, Iran and Iraq.... These turbulent areas will become our neighbors, and that’s not such a bad thing, unless we want to remain a dependent and idle Union. The new Union will have to deal with border changes, establish relations that won’t necessarily lead to new memberships, without further delegation of diplomacy and security to basically hegemonic allies like the U.S. After all, we must already think of Europe as a world power, a U.S. ally but in many ways separate from it--a power that will continue to be called Europe, but that in fact could be renamed Eurasia.”
"Turkey’s Slow Move Ahead Into EU"
Romano Dapas observed in Rome's center-left daily Il Messaggero (12/18): “The ‘big’ EU countries joyfully applauded the end of the grueling tug-of-war with the Turkish delegation. But Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, Tony Blair and the other...government leaders did not pop open a bottle of champagne, knowing well that Tayyip Erdogan, who is a practicing Muslim, would not have appreciated it. The decision not to hold the traditional toast is a clear sign Europe is undergoing a transformation and is gearing up to welcome Turkey by 2015.... But the enthusiasm did not last long. Conscious of the fact that they will have to face the skeptical, if not hostile, public opinion, EU leaders specified that negotiations do not mean membership and that voters in a number of countries including France, Austria and Denmark, will have the final say.... It appears that Turkey has started off on the wrong foot.”
"Towards Unknown Destinations"
Adriana Cerretelli wrote in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (12/18): “The Union which is opening up to Turkey...does not have a clear strategic plan, much less a common project for the future. It’s groping forward...without asking itself what it is leaving behind and without questioning its ability to handle this endless expansion.... Turkey’s accession will take roughly 10 years: it will be an obstacle course from which it will emerge changed. One hopes that Europe will be more mature and more conscious of what it wants to do when it grows up. If not, the Union’s historical big bang could turn into its disintegration.”
"Torments And Alchemies"
Franco Venturini concluded in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/18): “The very exhausting compromise in Brussels is alarming. The problem is no longer whether Turkey should become an EU member...but rather to understand what kind of Union will welcome Turkey after 2014. If constitutional reforms proceed as expected and do not get unanimous support, Europe will have to find a formula to balance old ambitions and new memberships. This will inevitably entail a reduction [of member countries] as a result of an excessive expansion, well before a final decision on Ankara.”
RUSSIA: "Europe's Outpost"
Aleksey Bausin stated in reformist Izvestiya (12/17): "Secular Turkey may and, indeed, must become Europe's strategic outpost in the area dominated by Islamic fundamentalism. Turkey is a chance for the EU to add to its clout in international affairs, especially in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Also, given a rise in Islamic fundamentalism, accepting the Turks will be a clear signal to Europe's Muslims that the EU is far from a 'Christian Club.'"
AUSTRIA: "The Tradition Of Cowardice Is Being Perpetuated"
Michael Fleischhacker opined in centrist Die Presse (12/20): "With his announcement of a referendum on Turkey’s EU membership, Austria’s Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel continues the policy of cowardice that has characterized the relationship between the EU and Turkey for decades. Whenever a clear decision would have been required--the last time was in Helsinki in 1999--the acting heads of state and government skirted around the issue in a way that could only be interpreted as consent by Ankara. The risks were being ignored since the political actors concerned knew that, at the end of the way when a clear decision could no longer be avoided, they would no longer be the ones bearing political responsibility. Whenever the people protested, they were handed out verbal sedatives that kept their anger at bay while preventing the Turks from becoming too annoyed.... The EU that, after the latest expansion round would really need a prolonged phase of consolidation, is in danger of being overtaxed not just with the actual Turkish membership, but already with the negotiations as such. This danger cannot be met by domestic populism that provokes an important partner such as Turkey unnecessarily, but by a common effort at strengthening the European institutions."
"The End Of The Old EU"
Foreign affairs writer Margaretha Kopeinig commented in mass-circulation Kurier (12/20): "Many people regard the present situation of the EU as a dangerous one. However, it can also turn out to be an opportunity for a 21st-century Europe. Why should the EU not define itself as a community of security, stability, prosperity and peace that does not just include Turkey but Ukraine and, still a long time from now, also Belarus and Moldova? Such a community ought to define itself in terms of a single European market and shared political principles such as democracy, human rights and minority rights. This project would do away with plans of consolidation, which would be replaced with a close cooperation of states. This concept is called ‘core Europe.’ It is not the end of EU history, but a concept for a future union which consists of countries that share values and prevent new wars."
"This Is Already A Partial Membership"
Independent Der Standard editorialized (12/20): “Since the Turkish membership issue is fraught with so many weighty questions, it is understandable that the peoples in Europe should be asked to give their consent. These referenda, however, could take place only after the negotiations have produced results--that is, after 2010. Until then, announcements to hold referenda serve a two-fold purpose. First of all, they once again reflect the cowardice of the elected politicians to bear the responsibility alone and face upcoming elections. Secondly, they convey to the less-informed part of the population the illusion that they will soon get the chance to decide on a Turkish membership. The only way that the announcement of a referendum could be turned into more than a political sham is if there were to be a law making a referendum mandatory for all future governments. At present, Austria’s Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, like other heads of state and government, is using the referendum to free himself and his political party from a serious charge: that the EU's consent to negotiations with Turkey is already the equivalent of a partial membership.”
BELGIUM: "We Are All Greek Cypriots"
Foreign editor Jurek Kuczkiewicz commented in left-of-center Le Soir (12/20): “When, at the conclusion of a negotiation, both sides are equally triumphant or disappointed, one can conclude that the deal was balanced. But when one side rejoices while the other wonders whether it made the right decision to sign the deal, one can be sure that there is one winner. Turks welcomed their prime minister with victory songs. Nothing similar happened in Brussels, where there is only a deep embarrassment.... We have not started negotiating on human rights yet but we have already made a concession on a fundamental principle, i.e., the recognition by Turkey of the integrity of the territory of a EU member country”
Christophe Lamfalussy observed in independent La Libre Belgique (12/18): “It is not excessive to call ‘historical’ the deal that the EU and Turkey concluded last Friday. How could one not speak of History with a capital H when Europe, which is Christian, binds itself with its powerful Muslim neighbor? If Turkey becomes an EU member country, Brussels will have borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, and Georgia.... It is therefore normal that the Heads of State and of Government added conditions to these membership talks. But those who oppose EU membership for Turkey should have no illusions. A process has been started and it will be hard to stop it. Besides, as time goes by, what seems so extraordinary today will perhaps appear as normal tomorrow.... Turkey must gradually adapt its fierce nationalism to EU’s habits of reaching compromise solutions. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan himself has sometimes used threatening words vis-à-vis those who oppose Turkey’s membership.... That gives the unpleasant impression that he already behaves as the conductor of the orchestra.”
DENMARK: "Obstacles For Turkey"
Center-left Politiken contended (12/20): “Hopefully, the 52 conditions related to Turkish membership negotiations presented by the EU have had a calming effect on the nerves of those who have a fit at the mention of the word Muslim. Seen from a Turkish point of view, the conditions appear to be degrading, even though the Turks welcomed the fact that they have received some kind of recognition. On the up side, at least we can look forward to better times in the years ahead.”
"EU Right To Hold Door Ajar For Turkey"
Center-left Politiken carried the following analysis by its chief Middle East correspondent, Herbert Pundik (12/20): “The EU has done itself a great favor by accepting Muslim Turkey as an applicant for EU membership...as it is necessary to improve relations between Europe and Islam. This issue will be one of the big topics in the years ahead and will probably get even more complicated as time goes on.”
"Turkey Is A Bulwark Against Extremism"
Ole Bang Nielsen wrote in center-right Berlingske Tidende (12/19): “The most common arguments for accepting Turkey into the EU are linked to foreign and security policy. Turkey, as a huge Muslim country, is an important ally for the West in the battle against Islamic fundamentalism. But the Turkish government must realize that it must be willing to sacrifice some of its national interests and some of its sovereignty in exchange for EU membership.”
HUNGARY: "Turkish, Yes"
Liberal leaning Magyar Hirlap editorialized (12/18): “The EU is accepting Turkey with a bad conscience. It fears the masses of Islamic immigrants, the repression of the Christian, European culture, and is not very successful in masking its fears.... These problems could probably only be solved at the price of the EU’s stratification, and in the end the countries that can afford it will establish their own elite group. With the well-prepared acceptance of the militarily strong Turkey, however, Europe could have a stronger role both in global politics and the global economy, and, perhaps, the region itself might become more secure.”
"Turkey At The Gates"
Foreign affairs writer Laszlo Szentesi Zoldi speculated in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (12/18): “If Turkey is not wanted in the Union--or only after a generation, and with humiliating conditions, the country will be facing two roads. One is that of Atlanticism, the traditionally good political and military relationship with the United States. Obviously, strengthening this relationship is not a European interest. Neither is the other option that, although not timely, cannot be ruled out in 15-20 years’ time. With its European dreams disappeared, Turkey will be left the role of the integrator, or at least the patron of the region, of the Turkish-speaking countries--a role that, in a given situation, might result in the decline of Ankara’s Western orientation and the strengthening of Islam.”
IRELAND: "Turkish Initiative Worth The Gamble"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (12/18): “For the first time a major Islamic country bordering the Middle East has been accepted as a fit candidate to join the EU.... The negotiations with Turkey will be difficult, prolonged and are not guaranteed to succeed. Their launch yesterday was soured by different interpretations of what the conditions attached will mean for the future of Cyprus, now a full EU member-state. But this should not obscure the historic nature of the overall agreement reached. Turkey has agreed to negotiate on the full range of the relevant criteria, having earned the right to do so by an extraordinary effort of political and legal reform over the last two years. Theirs is a legalistic culture, which must be put to a rigorous test of implementation in the decade to come. Only by demonstrating that these reforms have been applied in practice and command real popular support within Turkish society will they convince skeptical publics in EU member-states that full Turkish membership is feasible and desirable. That is a major gamble--but a progressive and welcome one well worth the effort involved by both sides. If successfully achieved, it will change both European and Turkish attitudes and cultures through a process of mutual adaptation and learning.... The demanding conditions attached by the Brussels summit can ensure that the deep reservations currently evident in EU member-states are overcome--even if subject to referendums, as Austria and France said they would be yesterday. That would be in 10 or 15 years time. In the meantime the world will have changed--helped along, it is to be hoped, by the process agreed yesterday.... Political leaders now have a challenging but rewarding opportunity to show both of these tasks are worthy of support by parliaments and citizens alike.”
The center-right Irish Independent remarked (12/18): “The news that talks on Turkish membership of the European Union are now set to start next year is welcome. Turkey wants to be in the EU, but the EU also needs Turkey on the inside, not least to ensure the stability of that side of Europe. There is, however, a long way to go yet. Turkey has a lot of ground to make up in terms of human rights and the influence of the military. The issue of so-called honor killings and the general treatment of women, particularly in the east, are also a concern. Turkey, as a Muslim country, will bring a great deal to the EU. But there are certain fundamental human rights that have to be upheld by all EU members.”
NORWAY: "Turkey In The EU Gives New Opportunities"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (12/18): “The decision has been controversial, and it remains to be seen both how far Turkey can and will adapt to the EU norms and how hospitable the EU will be during the negotiations that may last for 10-15 years.... Behind the resolution lies a recognition of how it would be politically unwise to reject an Islamic nation that says yes to accepting these liberal norms, when exactly this type of acceptance is what Western countries now demand from the Muslim world--after years with extensive terrorism from fundamentalist Muslims. Here, Turkey can prove to become an important political laboratory, also long before a possible membership comes into force. Because it is the actual process that is important; it is a road that develops as EU and Turkey move along, and which can tell the world that Muslim and Christian societies can work closely together.”
PORTUGAL: "Soft Power"
Francisco Sarsfield Cabral opined in respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias (12-20): "Notice the enormous power of attraction the EU exerts over those who aren’t already in.... And the perspective of joining the Union leads candidate-countries to radical reforms.... It is obvious that digesting so many new members is complicated. And that Turkey poses difficult cultural and demographic problems. In order to function, the EU needs the constitutional treaty which has not been ratified yet. And in order not to fall apart with 35 or 40 members, the Union will have to change much more. It will be a Union working at different speeds, with no illusions of [being a] superpower and, thus, firmly anchored to the United States’ military power, no matter how big the differences on both sides of the Atlantic are."
SPAIN: "The Turkish Fiancée"
Left-of-center El País editorialized (12/18): "Yesterday...a long process started that will mark a new destiny for the EU: greater cultural diversity, a new and complicated neighborhood, and a new size. If the EU is successful, it will have managed to export its best product, democracy, and with its Turkish wedding, it will have invalidated the theory of the 'clash of civilizations.' If the EU fails, it will nourish it."
"The Turkish Challenge"
Conservative La Razon held (12/18): "The entry into Europe by the country of Ataturk should be surrounded by appropriate guarantees and the necessary caution, because the impact of a member with such demographic, cultural, and political determining factors as Turkey might jeopardize the future of the Union."
SWEDEN: "Membership By All Means, But First Negotiations"
Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter editorialized (12/18): “Following the democratic progress made by Turkey, the EU Commission gave a go-ahead for Turkish EU membership negotiations.... However, due to growing anti-Turkish opinions (they)...felt they had to demonstrate that they indeed were not prepared to allow the Turks to lightly enter the EU.... There is a stream of distrust moving through Europe against those in charge and also what is unfamiliar. During the fall this has been vented over Turkish EU membership. During the winter and in the spring of 2005, this distrust may be aimed at the new EU Constitution.... Possibly this is what has made French President Jacques Chirac take such a strong stance for Turkish EU membership. In the long run Europe will need both the EU and a democratic Muslim member country.”
TURKEY: "Worrying Aspects Of The EU Decision"
Sedat Ergin observed in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (12/19): “The most controversial aspect...is that accession talks with Turkey would be ‘open ended,’ and the outcome can not be guaranteed. The report also states that full membership is not given, Turkey should be kept ‘closely anchored’ to EU structures. Naturally, Turkey has been disturbed by these phrases. None of these conditions has been given to other candidate countries. Moreover, the end of the process had been clouded right from the start by implying a ‘special status’ for Turkey as an alternative to full membership. Similar problems are evident on the issue of free circulation as well. Each EU country has been given the right to enforce its own rules that would restrict the free travel of Turks within the EU. This will make it difficult for Turkey to become a part of the Schengen system. It is only natural to apply temporary restrictions on free travel, as has been done with the 10 new members. However, permanent restrictions would give Turkey a kind of second-class membership. In addition to all of this, the opening of the negotiations...will actually be delayed for six months until a ‘screening process’ is completed. This means that, in reality, the talks will not begin until April 2006--assuming, of course, that the Cyprus issue is sorted out by then. In short, one can say that Turkey has gained an additional nine months by freezing the Cyprus problem in Brussels. The big fight with the EU will come next autumn.”
"What Is Historic In This ‘Historic’ Summit?"
Selcuk Gultasli commented from Brussels in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (12/20): “What does the EU summit in Brussels mean for Turkey? Are we getting closer to the end, or are we going to be stopped on the outskirts of Brussels? It is not possible to interpret the final communiqué from the summit as a victory or a great success. Unfortunately, Ankara could not fend off the condition of a ‘privileged partnership’ and permanent restrictions on free movement. Moreover, the October 3 negotiation date been connected with a resolution on the Cyprus issue. Despite all of these negative elements, the summit does represent an historic turning point for Turkey. If we leave the technical angle to one side and look at the big picture, we see that the flame of reform, which has been burning for the last two years in Turkey, has been strengthened. Turkey will bring itself to contemporary standards. This has great importance. While the EU tries to keep Turkey anchored to its own structures during this process, Turkey will become a regional power through the application of these reforms. In short, turning the EU’s hesitant, reluctant decision into an historic one depends on Ankara. Let’s continue the reforms.”
"Silent U.S. Support for EU membership"
Sedat Ergin observed in mass appeal Hurriyet (12/17): “Secretary Powell’s call to Turkish Foreign Minister to check on developments in the EU process came at a time when Ankara is giving its full attention to the December 17 summit. This shows that Washington is also watching these developments very closely. Similarly, U.S. Ambassador Edelman asked Turkish PM Erdogan last week if ‘there is anything we can do prior to the December 17 decision.’ Turkey has no objection to U.S. support on the EU, but this suggests that Ankara prefers that the U.S. engage in quiet diplomacy. This suggestion stemmed from past experience, which was rather bitter, when George Bush intervened in the process rather loudly during the Copenhagen summit in December 2002. Things are very different now. Currently, Washington is using its utmost influence through quiet diplomacy and is working for a positive decision to from the EU summit. Turkey’s gratitude for the American contribution was expressed by Turkish PM Erdogan to Ambassador Edelman during a bilateral meeting on December 13."
"Sit At The Table, Start The Process"
Mehmet Ali Birand opined in tabloid Posta (12/17): "For Turkey the important thing is to sit at the table. In the short term, the biggest profit to a Turkey that has sat at the table is the foreign investments that will start to flow. Let's not get lost in the details. Let's sit at the table and start the process. We can work out the rest at the table. Besides, let's not forget that nobody can make the other side accept something he doesn't want by force."
"Turkey Must Pay Attention To Solving Its Problems On Its Own"
Fikret Bila wrote in centrist Milliyet (12/17): "Turkey is a country which has been far more deserving of getting a start date and being a member than many countries which are EU members today. No condition, which the EU can put forward against Turkey, has been left out. Such requirements will be more like excuses rather than conditions [for admission]. When it is looked at from this perspective, no matter how the negotiation process goes on, Turkey has to pay attention to solving its own problems on its own, rather than diverting from its own targets."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA (MACAU SAR): "Turkey's Joining The European Union Is A Difficult Step"
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (12/17): "There are huge differences between Turkey and the Western world politically, economically, culturally and religiously. Hence, its entry to the EU has aroused heated debates among the EU countries. There is no doubt that Turkey's road to join the EU will be a bumpy one.... Many experts believe that the discussion will take at least 10 to 15 years."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Talking Turkey"
The nationalist Hindustan Times commented (12/20): "In the heated debate that preceded the agreement to initiate talks with Turkey on accession to the European Union, Brussels placed the focus on how much Turkey needs to evolve. But the paranoia regarding Turkey, especially at the European street, has also put a spotlight on the political and social rigidity of the EU.... There is little doubt Turkey is still a poor match for an EU vision of political liberalism, social stability and shared nationalism. Its treatment of its Kurdish minority, its omnipotent army and the fact its secularism is maintained through illiberal means all places it outside the EU mainstream. The flip side is that the EU's internal vision has produced a society fearful of change and external shocks. In theory, union with the EU should serve as Turkey's engine of transformation. Instead, the EU has told Turkey to do the difficult job on its own and only proffered a possible prize at the end of it all."
CANADA: "The Turkish Case"
Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le Devoir (12/18): "For Turkey to join the European Union, a colossal effort in pedagogy will be required from now until its eventual integration, planned for 2015.... Since the addition of Spain, Greece and Portugal to the European club, we know that one of the main virtues of the Union is to reinforce democracy. It is on this, on obligations in terms of policy and human rights, that those in favor of membership are banking, with excess that sometimes borders on credulity.... Those opposed to integration always base their arguments on two facts: the influence of religion on the current government...and Turkey's demographic weight. In less than 20 years, this country will be the most densely populated of the Union and will then have the largest delegation of representatives at the Strasburg Parliament.... Of all the demands made by the Europeans, one must be retained for now: the Armenian genocide. If Ankara insists on denying this horror, if Ankara chooses to overlook this [demand], we can only hope that the main actors in the Union opt to banish the recalcitrant. The duty of memory forbids any letting down of the guard. For the rest, lets wait and see."
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