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Europeans' reticence and Obama's involvement with Turkey
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-04-07 09:10:51
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With a few days difference the American president Barack Obama emphasized the necessity of Turkey to join the European Community and that naturally makes me wonder how he would feel and react if in their visit to the USA the French president or the German Chancellor would ask from the USA to make Mexico or Colombia the fifty-first state of the United States. Apart from that this involvement in something he has no right to do reminded the European allies why George W. Bush failed with the Europeans, he got involved and tried to manipulate Europe like Europe is a colony and not an equal partner.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy saved the European dignity pointing exactly that, the expansion of the European Union to Turkey is a totally internal European issue and there are strong objections including the French one that should never undermine. Nicolas Sarkozy voiced what the majority of the Europeans have said in many ways including the painful failure of voting for a pan-European constitution and later as they called it the treaty. In both cases the people raised as main issue for the rejection the expansion to Turkey. The reasoning is deep and covers from historic to social reasons and a deeper true that everybody has to admit, Turkey doesn’t cover the main ground any country member of the EU does, as it is today is not a European country. Period.

I have argued about it before and nothing has changed my opinion in the sense that as the title identifies – European Union – there are European countries no members with every right to become full members including Russia that excuses the geographical at least ground to be a member. Turkey is a federation of states left over of the mighty Ottoman Empire under the same leadership hold often with terrorizing power and not much of democratic ways, definitely far away from what Europe calls democracy and definitely a long way to reach the common European standards as even the European court and the courts of human rights daily prove not to mention the occupation of part of a European member state.

So why this determination from the USA administrations that reaches the limits of inexcusable and often harassing involvement in internal affairs of other countries? The reasons are mainly geopolitical and economic with the economic reasons the most obvious. The Americans need an ally in the area and especially a Muslim ally since they have manage to alienate with any other possible ally in the middle east except Israel that more often damages their geopolitical plans than helps. As the events have prove the last century there is one and only way to get Turkey’s loyalty and that is money or better anything in exchange and that unfortunately for the Turkey’s people who constantly live in the misery of a trebling economy, increasing unemployment, the horror of the army that can take over any minute and a custody of extremists from the right wing to religious fanatics. And the last few years has become just too expensive!

That’s it, Turkey has become too expensive and the exchange for the cost is just too small and risky since as Turkey has shown the last two decades they can easily change alliances. But this is understandable, legitimate and accepted for a country that lives, survives and mainly wants to play a leading role in the area.  In this geopolitical game is equally legitimate Turkey’s interest to become a full EU member, Morocco has expressed the same wish a few decades ago and of course Israel would love to be a full member and perhaps Japan, the problem is that none of them is a European country.

Nicolas Sarkozy is right, and don’t worry I am surprised myself finding that I agree in one thing with him; Turkey could make an excellent economic partner but this where it should stop, Turkey can never become a full EU member and part of the decision making, Europe cannot afford a member who first of all doesn’t fulfill by definition of the European Union, at least with the form Turkey is now and secondly cannot have a member who has an agenda often contradictional to Europe’s aims and Turkey as it is today has a lot of contradictional issues with Europe.

The only positive thing to Turkey is that this relationship will help the country to escape from the dark times the army has put the country too often and unfortunately continues offering with their active involvement and control over the political decisions and a radical social and legal change that will help the Turkish people.

Coming now to Barack Obama, his visit to Europe was definitely positive to smooth first of all the definitely shaken relationships because of the mistakes of the last administration and his announcements to terminate any nuclear weapons covers the wishes of all of us especially us European who often felt like becoming the battle field during the cold war. But his suggestions to the EU members in the Turkey’s issue caused some reticence that might have unexpected results in the future.

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AP2009-04-07 15:04:34
Well just because the Americans suggest it doesn't mean the Europeans have to accept it, even because they also suggested deep changes inside Turkey. Of course most of the country is not inside Europe, but ties (even conflituous ones) exist - or it wouldn't be so easy for the Turkish people to learn the Finnish language, for example. Turkey definitely has to solve human rights problems AND the Cyprus issue, only after that their "application" can be seriously considered. Of course, it wouldn't be an exclusively European Union after that, as most of the country is in another Continent - but if they solve all these matters, why not? (about Israel, that's a completely different matter - at least as long as there is no peace in the Middle East)
The same way, many people would support Morocco's integration - IF and only IF they solve the Western Sahara problem in a honest manner. Otherwise, Morocco has much to do (culturally and politically) and historic ties with Iberia, for example.

AP2009-04-07 15:05:51
ps - I would very much like to see Sarkozy going to Washington and suggesting Mexico as the 51st state of the US - that would be great :)

Emanuel Paparella2009-04-07 16:33:21
Aside from considerations of Machiavellian real politik and economy which loom large despite the idealistic rhetoric even in the so called Lisbon treaty which pretends to be a constitution, what Turkey needs to do and has not done yet, is to come out clean on its historical record and acknowledge that something awful happened to the Armenians some 100 years ago. To his credit President Obama called it a genocide during his campaign and has not repudiated that statement now that he is president visiting Turkey. As I remember, a genocide was being initiated and perpretated only 10 years ago in a European place called Bosnia and the EU did not distinguish itself in its desire and efforts to promptly stop it according to its democratic ideals. Here perhaps the US can be more effective than the EU in urging Turkey to look back at its past and own it, as it should.

Emanuel Paparella2009-04-07 16:39:22
P.S. As for the 3% of Turkey inside Europe, when Prodi was president he went around saying that every inch of European territory was sacred and worth defending. Somebody asked him if he intended to carry on a crusade to take Turkey's territory inside Europe back, and he had no answer to that, he just laughed at it. He could have said that Europe is an idea as well as a geographical place, but I suppose it did not occur to him. I don't think it would occur to Barroso either. He prefers the Lisbon treaty.

Thanos2009-04-07 19:21:30
As I mention in the article EU is identified geographically and it is somehow the completion of Charlemagne’s dream for a United Europe (that’s why the major European award carries his name) and I do agree that for example Morocco has a lot of cultural, political and historic ties with Europe and the same applies to Turkey. But then there is always the African Union which has exactly the same aims with EU and Morocco is the only African country that hasn’t joined despite the fact that Morocco is a full member and co-founder of the Organization of African Unity. Oxymoron!

Of course Morocco and Turkey would have the right to join EU if it wasn’t EU but something else because then Egypt will have every right, Israel, Libya and most of the South American countries, after all their political, cultural, commercial and historical ties are stronger and older than Turkey’s. But then there is an organization that fulfills all that and they are all members, is the United Nations and it would be catastrophic if EU replaces UN.

Coming now to Turkey herself, everybody wishes that the whole membership issue (happens or not) will help Turkey to find a way into democracy and that is for everybody’s good but most of all for the Turkish people who have suffered for decades under dictatorships with no respect to basic human rights and liberties. And yes it is embarrassing for all Europeans that Turkey who wants to be a member of the EU occupies part of a full member state with legitimate veto to the Turkey’s candidacy! That’s irony I suppose!

AP2009-04-08 16:00:43
You're right, but Turkey is the only one of those countries to actually have "a piece" inside Europe. Of course, I think, every member state agrees that they cannot join as long as they are not reasonable and leave Cyprus alone. Of course it would be good for their democracy and their people, oppressed for so long. But also EU would be enriched with that - maybe not financially, but culturally for sure. By the way, are Switzerland and Norway ever going to drop their attitudes?
If by chance EU expands, in the future, outside the European borders to form a new organization, of course those adhesions would have to be very carefully considered and made step by step, but I wouldn't see anything wrong with that - after all, not all European countries want to be part of it either.

AP2009-04-08 16:09:20
ps - to recognize the Armenian genocide would be helpful too. But Cyprus is still a big issue + the Turkish courts + human rights. I suppose they have to work on it.

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