Which Comes First for Turkey and the EU: Reforms or Membership?


The Economist has a helpful analysis of the troubled accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union.
One important point made in the article is that Europe requires Turkey to adopt all of the European Union reforms before it is granted membership. Turks are understandably hesitant to make politically difficult and costly reforms without guarantees that enacting those reforms will eventually lead to EU membership. Despite the opening of negotiations in 2005, the French and German governments are currently opposed to Turkey ever joining the EU.
One solution to this problem might be to require certain reforms to be in place before membership, while allowing others to take effect once membership is granted. Certainly, Europe is correct that Turkey must enact reforms related to basic issues of democracy and human rights – such as judiciary reform, constitutional reform, and press freedom – before a membership offer is granted. These principles are at the heart of the the very character of the European Union and it is in both Turkey’s and Europe’s interest that these reforms take place before the carrot of EU membership is awarded.
On the other hand, issues such as opening Turkey’s $60 billion public-procurement market to European firms and allowing free movement of goods and services to and from Europe can wait until Turkey gains membership. These issues are less about principle than about equity among Europe’s member states. It is entirely reasonable for Turkey to lay the legal groundwork for these reforms, but to wait until membership is granted before putting them into practice.
I’ll have more on this after former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari’s commission publishes its progress report next week.
— Ben Katcher


13 comments on “Which Comes First for Turkey and the EU: Reforms or Membership?

  1. Jan Bobik says:

    I just read a similar article on BBCNews called “EU ‘breaking promise’ to Turkey” which opens as follows:
    “The European Union is in danger of breaking its promise that Turkey will eventually be granted membership, an influential group has warned.”
    As a EU citizen I don’t know who ever promised Turkey that it will *eventually* join the EU. There are clear criteria for accession and if you don’t meet them you are not going to enter the union even in 100 years. If the Turks believe such *promises* they must be out of their minds.


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    An Excerpt
    Secondly, the extortion of one of Congress’s most liberal members should be a wake up call to progressives and all Americans. What other progressive Congressperson or Senators have been subjected to blackmail and extortion in order to turn them from ‘doves’ into ‘hawks’? If Turkish agents are conducting this type of arm twisting, what are other lobby groups doing behind the scense? And is there anyway for citizen lobbyists, working ethically and morally, to be able to compete with multinational corporations and foreign entities in the face of such dirty tricks?
    Third, it is quite disturbing that Attorney General Eric Holder, who was appointed by ‘agent of change’ Barack Obama, has not declassified the documents related to Edmonds’ case. There is now strong evidence of foreign penetration of U.S. intelligence agencies, nuclear facilities and legislative bodies and allegations of money laundering, nuclear proliferation and public corruption from a whistleblower deemed credible by, among others, Senator Charles Grassley.
    Yet Obama and Holder still apparently believe evidence in the Inspector General’s report on the Edmonds case constitutes classified information the American public should not have access to.
    The inaction on part of this Administration in this case is disturbing (as it has been in many other instances, from stopping illegal wiretapping to prosecuting torture). Instead of ‘change’, the look and feel of the Obama government resembles, more and more, the one that preceded it. If the President does not start delivering on the open government and increased accountability he promised during the 2008 presidential election campaign, progressives may have no choice but to go shopping for a new candidate, and perhaps even a new Party.


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yeah, but I’m a half-assed conservationist that believes the planet has far too many poodles and rednecks, and far too few moose.
    As for Bolshevik; way too much gristle.


  4. Paul Norheim says:

    I`m not sure, POA, but I think I have a highly recommended recipe for
    poodle burgers somewhere in my chaotic apartment…
    However, if you ask me, I would say it`s a rather depressive
    alternative to Alaskan moose burgers and Russian bolsheviks shot right
    from your own veranda.


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You would starve to death within weeks…”
    Nahhh, I’m not real crazy about a new neighbor and his family, (whose cars have Cheney/Bush and McCain/Palin bumper stickers plastered all over them), so I’d have food for at least six months.
    Even longer, if I can figure out a good recipe for poodle.


  6. Paul Norheim says:

    you mentioned in another thread that you would have preferred McCain/Palin in
    the WH (much more fun).
    I bet you would lose your day job if Palin was the VP. You would sit glued to
    your computer screen typing evil comments, and not even take the time for
    eating lunch. You would starve to death within weeks…


  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Hey, you guys had your chance to talk to Giraldi yesterday, who’s written extensively on Edmond’s allegation, and not one of you
    losers called in”
    Number one, I work a day job. And number two, my computer is dial-up because I am rural, and live streaming a radio show is out of the question on this system.


  8. Outraged American says:

    Cut Steve a break on this one. I’ve talked to Sibel myself, a few
    years ago, and am still unclear about all sorts of things. She was
    under a gag order then.
    It’s very complex, and needs to be further examined, that’s for
    Hey, you guys had your chance to talk to Giraldi yesterday, who’s
    written extensively on Edmond’s allegation, and not one of you
    losers called in.
    The show is hoping to have Giraldii back on in the near future.
    Call-in! Don’t whine and moan — ask the tough questions.


  9. JohnH says:

    POA, I think you may have answered the question that Ben absolutely refuses to touch: what is the US interest in Turkish-European relations? The answer? Bribes.
    Sad to see how low our “foreign policy” has sunk. Sibel Edmonds revelations affirm my view that there is a foreign policy mob running the show. It is lucrative enough to pay for think tanks to generate a never ending stream of rhetorical nonsense about freedom, democracy, human and women’s rights.


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Considering Sibel’s assertions of Turkey’s role in blackmailing an American Congresswoman, and thier role in selling American nuclear weapons technology on the world market, any debate, conversation, or commentary on Turkey cannot be responsibly waged.
    Are advocates for Turkey’s admission to the EU being blackmailed? Bribed? What clandestine and covert activities is Turkey currently engaged in that are polar to the security interests of the United States? If Turkey has trapped one United States’ Congresswoman in a honey trap, resulting in an ability to blackmail and influence American foreign policy, what other diplomats or political figures, of what nationalities, have fallen victim to Turkey’s espionage? What interests are keeping Sibel’s testimony and accusations from becoming a main stream media story, and why is the United States government working so feverishly to bury the story and silence Sibel Edmonds? Are top governmental officials being bribed or blackmailed into silencing Sibel? Is Marc Grossman being rewarded by Turkey for his alleged complicity and silence about a wide range of crimes committed by Turkey and key cabinet members of the Bush Administration?
    There is far far too many unanswered questions about Sibel’s accusations, and the silence from the media, our government, and organizations such as NAF is deafening. But one thing is for sure, any debate about Turkey is rendered useless until some of these questions get answers.


  11. Philippe says:

    Beg to differ on that.
    Remembering recent adhesions. This was standard practice for every new entrant,to comply (or at last be near and on the way to) with the ‘Acquis communautaire’ .
    See what happened for eastern Europe, and the problems in Romania where compliance is still an issue. Do not forget that once the new member state is in, the commission loose a lot of leverage towards the new member. European unions membership brings quite a lot of privilege with other member states. Some Court decisions are quite easily enforceable in every member state for instance.
    For turkey gaining huge exemptions on compliance will only strengthen the opposition to its entrance. Insisting on them will be taken as proof that Turkey is not negotiating in good faith and only want to get in to take the benefits of the club and not the obligations. Think United Kingdom, regardless of the muslim factor, some do not want a second UK in.


  12. JohnH says:

    If Europe agrees to let Turkey postpone reforms until after accession, the EU already knows what will happen. It has experience from the rushed, botched expansion into southeastern Europe. Romania, in particular, has weak institutions, widespread corruption, and is only superficially democratic.
    If Europe agrees to this, it’s a measure of how desperate the it is for Middle Eastern and Central Asian natural gas that will inevitably get funneled through Turkey as the only alternative to Russia.
    The question Ben should be asking is whether Europe has any choice but to sell its soul for natural gas.
    Oh, and Ben, could you please explain why it’s in US national interests to be knee deep in this morass? Can’t Europe sort this out by itself?
    Funny how unspoken US interests are always lurking close behind the scenes. Otherwise, why would Ben care about it at all?


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If you offer commentary about Turkey, without addressing Sibel Edmonds sworn testimony, than your commentary has no credibility, or courage.


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