Why Should Europe Accept Turkey Into Its Union?

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I just finished reading the Independent Committee on Turkey’s report on Turkey’s EU accession negotiations. The Committee consists of European elder statesman who support Turkey’s membership and are alarmed by the “vicious circle” of events that is jeopardizing Turkey’s EU prospects.
The term “vicious circle” is meant to capture how European opposition to Turkey’s membership has led to a slowdown in Turkey’s reform program, which in turn has led to further opposition within Europe.
Overall, the report makes a compelling, balanced case for why it is in Europe’s interests to do everything it can to move the negotiations along and eventually accept Turkey’s full membership.
The Committee demonstrates the hollowness of French and German calls for a “privileged partnership,” noting the fact that Turkey is already as integrated with Europe as any other non-member, and thus already enjoys a privileged partnership.
The report also correctly identifies the Cyprus, Kurdish, and Armenian conflicts – along with the ongoing struggle to reform Turkey’s democratic institutions – as the primary obstacles to Turkey’s membership.
Missing from the report, however, is a compelling, imaginative vision of what Europe is likely to look like in 15-20 years, and how incorporating Turkey’s young population, dynamic economy, access to energy resources, and large, professional army will strengthen Europe’s position. The authors make each of these points separately, but I would have liked to have read a concluding chapter that paints the picture a bit more clearly.
Another quibble is that the report does not mention the Turkish army, save for in the context of Turkey’s domestic political struggle. Turkey possesses the second largest army in NATO, a fact that should not be overlooked when making the strategic case for Turkey’s EU membership.
I understand that the European Union likes to think it makes its decisions based on democratic principles rather than strategic calculation – but Paris and Berlin think strategically, and it is Sarkozy and Merkel who are Turkey’s most significant opponents.
The essential point that the authors certainly understand – but that must be made explicitly – is the fact that Europe is stuck with Turkey no matter what. Whether or not the accession process moves forward, Turkey will be a large, influential country on Europe’s borders. Europe’s best chance to shape Turkey’s trajectory is to keep the negotiation process alive.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

30 comments on “Why Should Europe Accept Turkey Into Its Union?

  1. tarhan arikan says:

    quote “Turkey would enter the EU as by far its poorest member” is totally wrong. Actually Turkey is richer than two recent members, Bulgaria and Romania in terms of GDP per capita according to both IMF and World Bank figures. And the gap between some other members like Hungary, Poland, Latvia and Turkey is slim. Probably within 5 years Turkey will be richer than them considering the average economical growth that it shows.

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  2. MNPundit says:

    JohnH, I could not disagree with you more about the macro-historical importance of Vienna in terms of the Ottoman-Europe territorial situation.

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  3. JohnH says:

    Let’s not underestimate the importance of the Battle of Vienna (September 11, 1683) It stemmed the advance of the Ottomans into the heart of Europe. It is fondly remembered by apologists for the Neo-conmen. It makes you wonder if the date of 9-11 was coincidental or not. And if not, for which of the players was it chosen for its symbolism?

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  4. WigWag says:

    I hate to sound like a politician, but both MNPundit and Quillen are right when it comes to the Battle of Lepanto.
    MNPundit is correct that the Battle, although a dreadful defeat for the Turks, only modestly altered the balance of power in Europe. The Ottoman Empire lasted 350 years after the Battle of Lepanto and experienced numerous ups and downs along the way. By the way, MNPundit is also correct that JohnH made a typo when mentioning the date of the famous five hour naval battle; it actually took place on October 7, 1571.
    The battle was as much a psychological boost for the Europeans as anything else. It showed them that the Turks were not invincible; it fostered a degree of European unity; and it encouraged increased investment and technological development of European naval power.
    Quillen is correct that the importance of Lepanto should not be underestimated. While the Turks were still a formidable force on land, after their defeat by the combined navies of the Holy League, they never again achieved superiority over the Europeans at sea. The impact of this should not be underestimated.
    By the way, the Battle of Lepanto is still remembered in Spain and Turkey in a similar but less intense way than the 1389 Battle of Kosovo (between the Ottoman Turks and Serbs, Bosnians and Albanians) is remembered in Serbia.

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  5. Quillen says:

    I am an American who has lived in Turkey and who speaks a bit of Turkish. I admire and like Turks though I find the corruption of their instiutions and government (considerably reduced with the AKP)breathtaking, particularly as manifested in the “deep state.” I am in regular contact with many secular Turks and find that they are quite ambivalent about entering the EU, contrary to some of the views expressed above. The drive for EU entry is largely being pushed by politicians for various reasons of their own. I quite understand French and German concerns about assimilating Turkey, but I believe some possible scenarios for Turkish entry would minimize the costs and limit the franchise. That is possibly the way to go if Turkish entry is ever to become a reality. Turkey’s relatively young population could become an asset as a work force for an aging Europe.
    By the way, MNPundit is wrong both about Lepanto and Venice. Lepanto was a turnaround in the balance of power in the Mediterranean, which all contemporaries recognized at the time. Venice, far from wetting its pants, was a small city state fighting a great empire that had to pick and choose its time to fight. It continued to make war on the Ottomans and, frequently defeating them, through the seventeenth century and also early in the eighteenth century.

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  6. Dave says:

    It is not at all accurate to say that “Turkey is already as integrated with Europe as any other non-member, and thus already enjoys a privileged partnership.” The states of the EEA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland are non-members yet have to follow the majority of EU legislation through the agreements to be part of the common market (making them effectively “shadow members”). This is the ‘special partnership’ that opponants of Turkey’s entry are advocating, giving Turkey some kind of Switzerland-like partnership with the EU That would be a huge change from that it has now, which is essentially just a loose cooperation with the customs union.

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  7. b says:

    I see that George Soros financed that commission of outmoded European politicians to come the conclusion he sees best in U.S. interest.
    Keep the European Union as mired in internal problems as much as possible by pressing it to ever enlarge.
    Sorry – thanks Mr. Soros. The EU is not interested in your program.

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  8. Outraged American says:

    F*CK Israel, just F*CK her!
    Clock ticking for Iran as Israel appears ready for strike
    In the rare moments when it’s not preoccupied with the decline
    of U.S. President Barack Obama in the polls and with the debate
    over its government’s proposed health-care reforms, the
    American press continues to deal almost obsessively with
    another pressing issue: the deadlock in efforts to stop Iran’s
    nuclear program and the growing likelihood that the endgame
    will be an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
    In the past few weeks alone, an editorial in The Wall Street
    Journal warned the president that the United States must put a
    quick halt to the Iranian nuclear program, because otherwise
    Israel will bomb the facilities.
    “An Israeli strike on Iran would be the most dangerous foreign
    policy issue President Obama could face,” the paper wrote…
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1113816.html
    Never been an advocate for rape, but I want this shitty little
    country done doggie style and then the entire US mainstream
    media and Congress sodomized and then hanged by their balls
    or clits.

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  9. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    Turkey, strategically appears to be the European backyard yet culturally and historically but unfortunately, Turkey remains a subject of the European antagonism.The present and future of this very burning question about the European Union acceptance regarding Turkey’s entry into the European club, fairly depends upon the European policy makers’ positive perception. The Copenhagen criteria and the ongoing reservations shown by the German and the French policy makers hold sufficient warrants to reflect the fact that the mindset of the European policy framers has not yet been enough neutral and judicious to give due space and merit in this regard.
    But the European Union political leadership, after all,has to realise the irrefutable truth that the true dream or credo of the European enlargement cannot be accomplished unless and until Brussels commands the respect of turkey’s Justified right to join the Union.

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  10. Marcia says:

    The reason the EU does not want to accept Turkey is the same reason the US does not open its borders to Mexico, Central and South America.

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  11. MNPundit says:

    Perhaps the people talking about ” the battles of Lepanto (1683) and Vienna (1571) ” SHOULD GET THEIR DATES RIGHT before they start talking about idiot Americans?
    And what of them? Even if the Kara Mustafa could have taken Vienna they wouldn’t have held it long. It’s simply too far from the power-base. Their most likely course would be to hand off to the Hungarians. Oh Kara Mustafa would have tried like he did with Podalia but it wouldn’t have worked or it would have just drained the resources even faster.
    As for Lepanto? What? Is there something I am missing because the Holy League wasted any opportunity there and Venice knuckled under in its pants-wetting fear when they rebuilt the fleet. Frankly it would have been far less of a setback if they hadn’t had a drunk on the throne who let his desire for alcohol guide his decisions.
    Yeesh. I know they mean a lot in the myth of Europe but no more than the Battle of New Orleans. Although come to think of it, maybe that one matters since it led to Andrew Jackson’s rocketing popularity and he founded the Democratic party making Barack Obama possible.
    But I’m an American, what the hell do I know? My true concern with Turkey is I want to it to succeed as a UN-Rights respecting, democratic, Muslim nation. I honestly don’t know if it’s possible but I hope so. Otherwise Indonesia and Morocco are my only other options to find one. That said I’m aware that the US still needs to move toward that goal because of the number of unbelievably backward Christian conservatives here.
    Also, nice pun by the way JonH.

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    I have always hoped that some kind of business or opportunity would bring me to Turkey someday. But it’s not looking so good.

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  13. JohnH says:

    Turkish politics must be fascinating. I’ll have to follow it more closely. As I said, traditional society has “a” voice in the government now via the AKP. But you say that that voice is gung-ho EU? It could well be that the AKP is willing to give ground on cultural issues as a way to garner popular support while surreptitiously pursuing its own agenda or catering to business interests (like Republicans here). Or they could be promoting the EU as a way to increase the authority of the civilian government and to force the military, the self-anointed protectors of a secular society, to retreat permanently to the barracks. Of course, the conditions demanded by the EU require strong secular institutions, but not the institutions that neither the military nor Islamic traditionalists necessarily have in mind.
    The business community is probably on both sides, as here. And perhaps the AKP is pursuing accession as the most viable way to woo much of the business community away from the military, although that may be easier said than done, given that the military is a big market, as here.
    The political intrigue inside Turkey must be absolutely byzantine!
    Thanks for the book tips. I’m always looking for good stuff to read, although I’ve often had difficulty maintaining my interest in magical realism. I guess I get stranded out there on some of the flights of fancy and have trouble getting back.

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  14. WigWag says:

    “As I understand Turkey, there is a huge debate between the European-oriented secularists, heavily represented in Istanbul, and the rest of what is still largely a traditional Turkish, Islamic society. The Europeanized elites have dominated since the time of Ataturk, but this appears to be changing. The elites are being defended mostly by the US supported military these days, while the rest of society now has found a voice in the government. The elites are probably largely in favor of accession, while the rest of society probably has other thoughts and significant reservations.” (JohnH)
    That would stand to reason, but I’m not sure it’s true.
    It’s my understanding that the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Islamist Party led by President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan, is detested by what you call the “European-oriented secularists.” Unless I am mistaken, the AKP draws most of its support from the more rural and more traditional sectors in Turkey. Yet despite their support of headscarves and the reintroduction of conservative values back into Turkish Society, Gul, Erdogan and the AKP are staunchly in favor of Turkey joining the EU.
    In fact, the AKP has made numerous compromises to try and impress the Europeans. They’ve entered into good-faith negotiations with the Turkish Kurds; they’ve developed an increasingly positive relationship with the Iraqi Kurds; they’ve offered compromises on Cyprus; they’ve eliminated capital punishment; they’ve withdrawn laws they originally proposed pertinent to women’s rights and homosexuality that Europe found objectionable.
    Gul and Erdogan seem to be pursuing EU membership with almost as much enthusiasm as the secular Turkish parties would. Their gusto in pursuit of EU membership doesn’t appear to be hurting them politically; they’ve won the last two national elections by comfortable margins.
    And even though enthusiasm for EU membership is clearly on the wane in Turkey (which isn’t surprising given the fact that enthusiasm for the EU is even waning amongst EU members at the moment) the ruling Islamist Party continues to pursue it assertively. With a brief Google search you can find numerous statements from President Gul and Prime Minister Erdgoan urging Europe to speed up the admissions process and repeating their commitment to Turkish membership.
    On another matter, JohnH, if you liked “Autumn of the Patriarch” I would like to recommend another book that I am sure you would love. It’s called “The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts” by Louis de Bernieres (who is most famous for his book Correlli’s Mandolin). It’s a tragicomedy loosely based on the conflict between the FARC and Colombian Government.
    If you are interested in Turkey (as I am), de Bernieres also wrote a terrific work of fiction about Turkey called *Bird without Wings.* Like many of the books of Garcia Marquez (and Borges), *Bird without Wings* is a novel that employs magic realism. It is set in the early part of the 20th century and is funny, sad and informative at the same time. I am sure, JohnH that you would really enjoy it.

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  15. JohnH says:

    Topkapi Palace and its collection of the Sultan’s jewelry is amazing.
    I never managed to get through “My name is Red” or “100 years of solitude,” but I have enjoyed many of Garcia Marquez’ other works, particularly the “Autumn of the Patriarch,” described as “a colorful chronicle of a despot’s progression from popular, beloved, unafraid ruler to isolated, frightened despot.” The chapters are apparently each inspired by a different Latin American despot. It ruminates on their utterly banal mindset and often gruesome and outrageous daily behavior. Some of your favorite American supported Arab despots might spring to mind if you read it…
    As I understand Turkey, there is a huge debate between the European-oriented secularists, heavily represented in Istanbul, and the rest of what is still largely a traditional Turkish, Islamic society. The Europeanized elites have dominated since the time of Ataturk, but this appears to be changing. The elites are being defended mostly by the US supported military these days, while the rest of society now has found a voice in the government. The elites are probably largely in favor of accession, while the rest of society probably has other thoughts and significant reservations.
    What’s interesting here is that I imagine that the corrupt, “deep government” that Sibel Edmonds exposes is rooted in the European-oriented minority, which sees accession as helping them cover their backs and perhaps sell out at enormous profit. However, the EU must uproot these natural allies, if it is to meet their goal of democratic institutions. However, doing this would empower the Turkish, Islamic population, which is not their natural ally. It’s all so fraught with contradictions!

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  16. ... says:

    i read wigwags comments in a much more favourable light… wigwag seems genuinely drawn to the culture and says so right from the get – go..
    i never had any raki when in turkey, but they have something similar in chios where i was for about 8 days… although i wasn’t able to get to istanbul, i would very much like to..

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting. Muslim countries that embrace the vices of the west are being lauded for their deviations. We recently saw a glowing endorsement of Dubai, with the author’s slobbering glee over the existence of brothels, bars, and western business practices. Now Wigwag pines for the “intoxication” of a turkish alcohol.
    Imagine Wigwag’s consternation if one of us lauded a nationwide Israeli fad of devouring pork. Of course, any such glee would be seen, rightly so, as a celebration over the demise of Jewish ideology. And in turn, the recent post about Dubai, and Wig-wag’s comments here, are tacitly Islamophobic (racist) in their celebration of a break down of Islamic ideology.

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  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…….and how incorporating Turkey’s young population, dynamic economy, access to energy resources, and large, professional army will strengthen Europe’s position. The authors make each of these points separately, but I would have liked to have read a concluding chapter that paints the picture a bit more clearly”
    Many of the main websites questioning the 9/11 narrative have been hacked and taken down today. It must be because they are all run by conspiracy nuts, eh?
    And Sibel Edmonds’ accusations matter not to Ben when he’s wearing think tank blinders designed to focus opinions down closely controlled tunnels of thought.
    Are you being lobbied by Grosman to write this crap, Ben, or do they write the check directly to you?

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  19. WigWag says:

    One thing I bet we can agree on JohnH, is that culturally, Turkey is quite diverse and very impressive. Its cultural contributions to the EU would be greater than those offered by several recent EU additions.
    As far as I am concerned, Turkey can claim one of the two greatest authors alive in the world today. Orhan Pamuk who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2006 has written several extraordinary novels along with a relatively recent nonfiction book about his great love, his home city of Istanbul. In it, he particularly focuses on the role of the River Bosphorus. I regret that I never got to see Istanbul; reading Pamuk’s book on the subject is the next best thing.
    Anyone who wants to understand the debate about headscarves that is taking place not only in Turkey but also in other places like France and even Iran should read Pamuk’s novel “Snow” which presents a very nuanced fictional discussion of this controversy.
    One of my favorite novels of all time is Pamuk’s “My Name is Red” which is a meditation on many subjects not the least of which is different conceptions of art (especially painting) in the West and the East.
    A few years back, Pamuk was arrested and charged with the crime of slandering Turkey, for suggesting that Turks needed to come to terms with the Armenian Genocide. Authors from all over the world, led by their trade organization (PEN) came to Pamuk’s defense and the government reluctantly dismissed the charges. At the time, many people believed that it was the government’s enthusiasm for EU membership that motivated them not to continue with the prosecution.
    By the way, one of the writers who came to Pamuk’s defense was the other author who I think is one of the best living writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is incomparable).
    Although Turkey is a Muslim nation, because it is still a secular country (at least for the time being), alcoholic beverages are far more available in Turkey than other Islamic societies. I have always wanted to try the national spirit of Turkey, Raki. But I have never come across it in an American liquor store.
    Like Turkey itself, it is supposed to be quite intoxicating.

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  20. JohnH says:

    Yes, the EU can offer tremendous incentives, and maybe it goes without saying in the minds of those in Brussels that Turkey would be foolhardy to pass them up. But, unlike other supplicants, Turkey has options, as they say. They can levy a tax on the EU by collecting royalties on the natural gas passing through, generating a substantial revenue stream without incentives.
    So what else can the EU offer? A bigger market? Well, Turkey already has a substantial industrial base, unlike much of Eastern Europe. And they have large market opportunities in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. So maybe the European market isn’t as critical to Turkey as proponents of accession would have you believe.
    And then there are other issues. Is Europe going to accommodate itself to a flood of cheap Turkish goods? Or will it insist that Turkey allow European behemoths to dominate the Turkish market and do the exporting back to the EU, as happened in places like Spain, Portugal, and Eastern Europe?
    Yes, Turkey offers unique challenges, not to mention the ones you laid out. Much of the “cohesion policy” came at the expense of Western Europe, which suffered through long years of slow growth and high unemployment while Eastern Europe boomed. With unemployment exceeding 20% in Spain, a “cohesion policy” for Turkey is likely to face some pretty heavy winds.

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  21. WigWag says:

    JohnH, you ask what Turkey gets out of the deal if they’re admitted to the EU.
    One of the most important things they get is large economic subsidies paid for primarily by the wealthier EU nations. Over time these subsidies (which come in a variety of different forms ranging from agricultural price supports, to export assistance and subsidies to direct payments) can mean hundreds of millions of Euros transferred to Turkey which is, after all, a poor nation. According to the EU itself, these transfer payments can add several points to a nations GDP.
    The EU calls it their “cohesion policy” and they brag about it on their website. According to the EU, subsidies to poorer EU nations have resulted in the creation of 450 thousand additional jobs in the poorer EU nations between 2004 and 2006.
    Here is a quote from the EU website about the impact their “cohesion policy” has had on the GDP of the poorest EU countries.
    “Preliminary estimates for the period 2007-2013 provide for GDP growth (in comparison with the situation without the impact of the cohesion policy) as follows:
    ~9.0% in the Czech Republic and Latvia
    ~8.5% in Lithuania and Estonia
    ~7.5% in Romania
    ~6.0% in Bulgaria and Slovakia
    ~5.5% in Poland
    ~3.5% in Greece
    ~3.1% in Portugal”
    Turkey would enter the EU as by far its poorest member. As a result it could expect to benefit disproportionately from EU subsidy programs.
    The other thing critical to remember is that Turkish citizens work legally and illegally in nations throughout the EU. The funds they repatriate to Turkey are quite consequential to the Turkish economy. EU membership would make it far easier for Turkish citizens to travel to and work legally throughout the EU. The importance of this should not be minimized.
    It’s one of the things that make me doubtful that France and Germany will ever relent and permit Turkey to join. If EU citizens can’t tolerate Polish plumbers “invading” their countries it’s hard to believe they’re going to welcome the Turks with open arms.

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  22. JohnH says:

    Wigwag, your obviously being a history buff, you realize that Istanbul served as the hub of Europe and Western Asia for the better part of the last 2000 years. It is unquestionably a strategic asset to whomever controls it.
    The real question is how you manage the aspirations of Western Europe, which was at the center of world power before the US took over, with the aspirations of Turkey, an earlier and perhaps future power center. Frankly, I’m not convinced it’s possible. Turkey holds a lot of trump cards. Even if Turkey accedes, its relationship with the EU could be much more contentious than that of the UK for a whole host of reasons.
    But lets not trouble Ben with Turkey’s aspirations. Apparently only Europe matters (and that attitude is a big part of the West’s problem in the world).

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  23. WigWag says:

    Anyway the report makes the stakes for Europe pretty clear: “For the Union, the unique geopolitical position of Turkey at the crossroads of the Balkans, the wider Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia and beyond, its importance for the security of Europe’s energy supplies and its political, economic and military weight would be great assets.” (JohnH quoting the Second Report of the Independent Commission on Turkey
    September 2009)
    I understand the role that Turkey might play in the energy future of Europe, but the rest of it makes no sense to me. Turkey occupies a strategic geographical niche but that seems to be mostly a military asset. The EU has no military force; responsibility for European security rests with NATO and Turkey is already a member of NATO. Whatever “military weight” Turkey has, is already amply utilized by NATO, its incremental value to the EU seems less than important.
    Turkey as an economic asset to Europe? Really? Turkey is terribly poor and exports very little other than its workers (and from what I’m told some excellent cannabis products). Whether those workers enter member nations of the EU legally or illegally, they’re greeted with increasing hostility everywhere the go (unfortunately).
    Turkey as a political asset? Don’t the Turks need to work out their problems with the Kurds, the Armenians, the Cypriots and the Greeks before Europe can count them as a net plus instead of a net minus from the political perspective?

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  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, another post about Turkey where we are all supposed to pretend “Sibel Edmonds” is a comic book, and has nothing to do with the real world.
    Hey Ben, the next time you see Grossman, ask him if the money is worth it.

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  25. JohnH says:

    Don Quixote? Wasn’t he the guy fighting the Islamo-fascists in Afghanistan? Ooops. Sorry for the confusion. That was Barak Obama!
    Anyway the report makes the stakes for Europe pretty clear: “For the Union, the unique
    geopolitical position of Turkey at the crossroads of the Balkans, the wider Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia and beyond, its importance for the security of Europe’s energy supplies and its political, economic and military weight would be great assets.”
    The report makes it less clear what the advantages would be for Turkey in return for proving itself worthy. The report suggests that acceptance in the club would be the prize! Wow! Turkey gets to join a club? Impressive!?!
    You get the idea that the two sides are playing two entirely different games. The Europeans might deign to allow Turkey to join their cozy little club, if Turkey proves itself worthy. Turkey, on the other hand, is playing its geopolitical position. It may not really relish the role of supplicant to its “betters” in Europe. Turkey may be thinking more in terms of negotiations between equals.
    I’m not sure why Ben repeatedly insists on missing this basic dynamic.

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  26. WigWag says:

    “Of course, the battles of Lepanto (1683) and Vienna (1571) mean little to most American’s.” (JohnH)
    I am sure than JohnH is right about this; most Americans probably have never heard of the Battle of Lepanto and my guess is that most Americans don’t know that the Ottoman Turks reached the gates of Vienna on two separate occasions.
    But any American who has read “Don Quixote” has experienced a little more of the Battle of Lepanto than they think.
    Miguel de Cervantes served heroically in the Battle of Lepanto and received a wound that permanently maimed his left hand. Cervantes was extremely proud of his role in the famous victory and of the nickname he earned, el manco de Lepanto (the cripple of Lepanto).
    Several chapters in Don Quixote (especially references to service on the galleys of Spain) are based on Cervantes experience in what was one of the seminal naval battles in the history of the world.

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  27. WigWag says:

    Perhaps French and German antipathy to Turkey’s membership in the EU is based on more than Turkish poverty and their reluctance to subsidize it. Compared to other EU members Turkey is behind in several other ways.
    If Turkey is admitted to the EU it would be the member with the lowest literacy rate; and this has nothing to do with Turkey’s poverty. One of the poorest EU members in Estonia, it also has the second most literate population in the world after Cuba. Turkey, on the other hand, while only moderately poorer than Estonia, has a far higher illiteracy rate. In fact, in terms of literacy Turkey is in the bottom half of nations in the world. Some of the nations with higher literacy rates than Turkey include Zimbabwe (the poorest nation in the world), Albania and Mongolia.
    If admitted, Turkey would also have the lowest life expectancy of any EU nation. EU life expectancy averaged over all member nations is 78.7 years. The EU member with the highest life expectancy is France (80.0 years). The current EU nation with the lowest life expectancy is Romania (72.5 years.) Turkey’s life expectancy is 72 years placing it behind life expectancies in places like Gaza, the West Bank, Armenia, Algeria and Lebanon.
    Infant mortality is another parameter where, if admitted to the EU, Turkey would trail every other member nation. Turkey has 27.5 infant deaths per thousand. Sweden has 3.2 infant deaths per thousand (best in the EU), France comes in second (4.2 infant deaths per thousand). Currently the worst record in the EU is Romania with 14.9 infant deaths per thousand. In terms of infant mortality, Turkey trails most nations in the world. Areas with better rates include: Viet Nam, the West Bank and Gaza, Syria, Moldavia and Bosnia.
    Unless Ben Katcher is suggesting that the EU admit Turkey as a charity case (and I think a case can be made for that), what benefit does he expect the other member nations will reap by admitting Turkey?

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  28. JohnH says:

    How appropriate that Ben should post this on the 326th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. Of course, the battles of Lepanto (1683) and Vienna (1571) mean little to most American’s. But they do mean a lot to those trying to stir up trouble and obsessed with phony conspiracy theories about Islamo-fascism.
    http://www.aei.org/event/1775
    If AEI is talking about saving Europe from the Turks, image what their kindred spirits in Europe are doing!
    Of course, it would be terribly ironic if Europe’s addition to Persian and Central Asian natural gas via Turkish pipeline routes served as the Trojan horse (Troy was in Turkey) for allowing Turkey to advance further into Europe than the Ottomans ever could. But it ain’t going to happen anytime soon. And Europe probably isn’t going to get a lot of cooperation of those coveted natural gas pipelines, either, unless they provide Turkey with preferential access to the EU market.

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  29. ... says:

    wigwag quote “And, of course, there’s the unfortunate reality that Europeans don’t seem to like Muslims very much. Given the fact that the Europeans and Turks fought almost continuously for 500 years that’s not completely surprising.”
    according to this logic, everything hinges on the past, and one can never escape it…if i didn’t know better i would think you were a traditional easterner believing firmly in an endless cycle of karma..
    on the other hand i suppose this same logic would like to avoid noting the constant hollywood / media coverage that always portrays any muslim as a terrorist… we know who to thank for that.. then there’s the complete cover up on 9-11 which serves exactly the same purpose… this is really predictable, and serves a purpose that people like wigwag would prefer we ignore..
    lets commemorate sept 11th by trying something else, if only just for today…

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  30. WigWag says:

    I really enjoy Ben Katcher’s posts on Turkey. But I think there are a couple of points he should consider before he’s too critical of the skepticism the French and Germans have about Turkey’s admission to the EU.
    1) If the Turkey is admitted, it will enter as far and away the poorest country in the European Union. Turkey’s per capita GDP (2008) is $12,000. This is less than the GDPs of other poor EU nations such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia. Is it really so surprising that two of the richest nations in the world like France and Germany are reluctant to subsidize another impoverished EU aspirant?
    2) Turkey may have the second largest army in NATO but the EU is an economic union not a military alliance. The “enemy” the Turkish Army is most likely to attack in the foreseeable future is the Erdogan Government.
    3) While ethnic and religious minority groups face discrimination throughout Europe in most cases that discrimination is defacto; in Turkey it’s de jure. The Kurdish language is still banned for government transactions and Kurdish school children are forbidden to read textbooks in their own language. To his credit, Erdogan has recently begun good faith negotiations with the Kurds designed to ameliorate some of the discrimination. Nevertheless, there is no minority group anywhere in the EU that experiences government sanctioned discrimination as severe as Turkish treatment of the Kurds.
    4) The two most horrendous genocides of the 20th century were committed by European perpetrators. The largest genocide (Germany’s) has been acknowledged by the perpetrator and has been recompensed to the extent that recompense is possible, by enormous reparation payments. The perpetrator of the second largest genocide (Turkey)still denies its complicity in the Armenian Genocide, refuses to pay reparations, and constantly seeks to stymie discussion of the tragedy it perpetrated.
    5) According to a recent poll conducted by the German Marshall Fund only 40 percent of Turks actually support Turkish membership in the EU. Moreover it’s not just Sarkozy and Merkel who oppose Turkish membership, their view appear to be held by the majority of EU citizens. During the recent elections to the EU Parliament, most of the newly elected members oppose Turkish membership. According to recent polls, even in the EU nations most sympathetic to Turkish membership, Great Britain and Italy, less than a third of those polled thought admitting Turkey was a good idea.
    President Obama would like to see Turkey admitted. So did Presidents Bush and Clinton. But of course, if Turkey does become an EU member it won’t be the United States providing them with subsidies; it will be France and Germany.
    And, of course, there’s the unfortunate reality that Europeans don’t seem to like Muslims very much. Given the fact that the Europeans and Turks fought almost continuously for 500 years that’s not completely surprising.

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