"Europe Would Lose If Turkey Is Rejected" Chris Patten in The Hindu (India)18 October 2007
The Hindu (India)
This is no way to treat a friend — Europe has just as much to lose as Turkey if the doubters prevail in the EU membership battle..
For the third year in a row, Turkey’s annual hurdles on the winding path of convergence with the European Union — a progress report early next month and the European Council in December — are likely to be bruising. Doubters will seize on gridlock over Cyprus and a pause in legislative reform to allege that Turkey is not changing and should be pushed back outside the EU’s gates. They will point to Ankara’s response to the United States’ e fforts to declare the 1915-23 killing of Armenians a genocide, and the political push for an incursion into northern Iraq to deal with cross-border terrorist attacks, as evidence that Turkey is not ready to join the club. So it is worth stepping back and considering why Europe needs Turkey.
Turkey was critical to Europe in the Cold War. For 40 years, it stood lonely guard on the south-eastern third of NATO’s frontline, paying the price in military-heavy government and delayed development. There was little carping about its Muslim identity then, and a cultural variety that included Turkey was considered a European strength. After communism’s collapse, Turkey kept contributing to Europe’s security, giving troops and legitimacy to EU-backed missions in Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Balkans, and even Congo. If EU-Turkish relations had not stumbled (for which all sides are responsible), it would likely be supporting a force for Darfur.
The process of convergence has been strongly in Europe’s interest as well, especially the golden period between 1999 and 2005: wide-ranging reforms fashioned a more European political system; peace and cooperation replaced friction with Greece; an annual economic growth of 7.5 per cent benefited European companies; Turkey’s new trust in the EU brought a turnaround on Cyprus that nearly solved the problem; and basic freedoms of religion and expression improved. The EU won credibility as a fair-minded player in the Muslim world.
But the sum of these many parts is not seen by European people and politicians, consumed by doubts about enlargement, immigration and their own economic security.
Election campaigns — notably those of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel — featured a demeaning of the Turkish “other” and proposals that Europe drop its promise of membership. Conservative EU politicians admit privately that Turkey is more benefit than threat, but that to say so out loud would be political suicide.
Fears about instant membership are misplaced. Nobody suggests Turkey will be ready for a decade or more. Incomes are less than half the EU average, and EU norms are far from implemented. Accession will be imminent only when the stiffest conditions applied to any candidate are fulfilled (and every EU state will still have a veto).
Indeed, depending on how the EU develops, Turkey may have second thoughts.
Most important for both the EU and Turkey is to re-launch the process of convergence that has brought so much benefit to both sides. Turkish voters have shown their faith in this process, returning the pro-reform AK party to power. It has gone straight back to work, tackling in an open spirit one of the key problems in Turkey’s democratisation: the 1982 military-era constitution.
As EU leaders prepare for the annual debate over how much reform Turkey has done and how much it should do, they should do all they can to renew Turkey’s trust in the EU. The cost of restoring the motivational goal of membership is not high, and the reward great. Turkey is not fundamentally different to Greece, Spain, and Portugal, where EU leaps of faith were essential to a transition from military authoritarianism to stability and democracy. — ©Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2007
(Lord Patten, the former European commissioner for external relations, is chairman of the board of the International Crisis Group www.crisisgroup.org)
Comments: I think its important to state some historical facts about the Turkey and their origins.
Historically, Turkic people have lived and left their influence throughout many parts of Eurasia. They have consistently maintained a policy of assimilation, by absorbing the different cultures that they conquered into their own culture, and maintaining many of the useful ideas and influences of the conquered cultures. Turkish political history began with the creation of the powerful Hunnic State, which was able to expand its borders from Eastern Turkestan and Central Asia to Central and Western Europe under the command of Attila.
After the Huns, until 1040 a series of states founded by various Turkic tribes rose to prominence and consequently collapsed due to invasions from other Turkic tribes. One group in particular was the House of Seljuk, a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who, in the 9th century, resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy. In the 10th century, the Seljuks migrated from their homelands in Central Asia into the eastern Anatolian regions.
The Ottoman Empire at the height of its power (ca. 1680)Following their victory over the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Turks permanently settled in Anatolia, giving rise to the Anatolian Seljuk State which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire. During the time of the Seljuk dominance, there were two other prominent Turkish states, the Karahanids and Ghaznavids who became unified under Seljuk rule. In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols and the power of the empire slowly disintegrated. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I was to evolve into the Ottoman Empire, thus filling the void left by the collapsed Seljuks and Byzantines.
The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 623-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was among the world's most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the powers of eastern Europe in its steady advance through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914, and was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the dismemberment of the Ottoman state through the Treaty of Sèvres.
The Question remains, "WHAT WILL EUROPE LOOSE IF TURKEY IS NOT ADMITTED IN THE EU" Most certain History has taught what side they pick.