European Union Losing Turkey

Posted on August 21, 2007

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by HUGH POPE, Wall Street Journal
August 20, 2007

Istanbul

When a half-century of convergence between Turkey and the European Union last floundered a decade ago, the Turks regrouped and forged forward and the EU met them halfway. The result was a revolutionary period of reform in Turkey. Last month, grateful for their most fruitful period of political stability in many years, the Turkish electorate gave a resounding 46.7% vote of confidence to the ruling, pro-reform AK Party.

Now it is Europe’s turn to take a stand. Instead it is stumbling: finding enlargement unfashionable, fearing immigration and mistaking some nonintegrated Turks within the EU for Turkey itself. Governments in France, Germany, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands are trying to short-change Turkey with the new idea of a “privileged partnership,” not the membership promised repeatedly since 1963.

There is no need for Europe to fear Turkey’s membership goal. The Turks themselves acknowledge the country is far from ready; the earliest date for joining the EU is a decade away. Turkey has to fulfill the stiffest conditions applied to any candidate. Any EU government can veto its membership, and the French people can vote it down in a referendum. If and when Turkey becomes acceptable to the EU, the Turks, attached to their sovereignty, make no secret that they too may think hard about the last step. [more]

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