Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Turkey and EU

Turkey has long worked to join the European Union. It is a candidate country. But most Europeans, as suggested by studies and analysis, are not willing to embrace Turkey into their Union for a host of reasons. First, culture and religion. While Turkey strives to be a secular state, its Constitution is strongly cultural in enshrining extreme nationalism, Ata-Turk. Culture is the strongest link to religion. Given the recent wave of Islamic extremism, Europeans are expressing deep concerns over Turkey's cultural heritage. Second, very importantly, the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide and the historic battle with Greece over Cyprus is really disappointing to many Europeans, especially Austria, Germany and France (here). Jacques Chirac, the former French President, repeatedly mentioned this issue when faced with Turkey's bid for the membership. (here) While UK is the most optimistic, given US-Turkish relations and the NATO membership, most Europeans are simply pessimistic. Given Germany's full acknowledgment of its past atrocities and the Jewish Holocaust, Turkish denial seems so immoral to most conscientious Europeans.

The studies have in fact shown that Europeans are much more willing to embrace Russia into the EU, which is elevating and inspiring for many Russians, who for decades felt deprived of any good-will on part of Western European countries. The Cold War legacy and Western criticism of Putin's policies are still a challenge for this process. But Russians seem very optimistic that they will overcome those. (here)

Another issue must be mentioned. It is not only cultural and ideological concerns that dominate in the minds of Europeans. The influx of immigrants from Islamic countries and the economic recession in Europe make Europeans (like Americans) resist immigrants and any more members joining EU. After all, joining the EU would mean fully taking part of the economic advantages.

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