Saturday 4 April 2009

Turkey ending its EU membership bid?

Is Turkey going to end its bid for accession to the European Union?

This is the way it looks after the opening of the NATO summit, where Turkey seems to have vetoed the candidacy of Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen to become the next Secretary General.

The Turkish reforms were already down to snail’s pace, so perhaps Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has just decided to drive the last nail into the coffin of his country’s EU aspirations, without having to withdraw the bid formally.

Ralf Grahn


  1. I had similar thoughts yesterday.

  2. Is accepting Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO secretary now also a condition to become member of the EU? Interesting.

  3. The visibly manifested position of Turkey to veto the candidate of 27 NATO members shows a high regard for religious intolerance (for domestic consumption).

    Freedom of the press is a corner stone of the rule of law, one of the founding values of the European Union and, yes, membership criteria.

  4. Julien,

    I wonder if the EU is going to continue pumping in pre-accession aid to Turkey, if neither reforms nor negotiations progress.

  5. Kosmopolito,

    The latest progress report on Turkey was dismal reading and the listed unfinished political reform tasks in the Commission's strategy are huge.

    The sums are substantial, from about 570 to 900 million euros annually.

    The veto indicates that the Turkish gvernment has not internalised the founding values of the EU, despite Turkey being a member of the Council of Europe since 1949.

    When is it time to stop throwing good money after bad?

  6. Turkey is under big pressure from islamic countries about candidacy of Rasmussen. As you know Turkey is playing role of bridge between two civilization.

    Grahnlaw talking about freedom of press. But I dont imagine Rasmussen to be secretary if he protects jounalist who says something against holocoust.So freedom of speech does not mean to insult other people's feelings.

  7. Nebidemez,

    To me it looks more as if the Turkish government was acting more as a drawbridge than a conduit.

    Freedom of the press includes the right to hurt people's feelings, and there is nothing a prime minister can do about an individual case.

    The limits vary somewhat between jurisdictions, but they are based on legal norms and independent courts.

    The holocaust happens to be a historical fact.

    Europe has had a long and hard enough fight to liberate itself from totalitarian ideologies - religious and political - never to succumb to them again, I hope.

  8. After the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, we can ask ourselves what the Turkish government achieved with regard to the standing of Turkey among its NATO allies and the EU member states.

    Anyway, the backlog of political and judicial reforms is still there.

  9. Perhaps the great Grahnlaw should address this, or does his version of human rights only extend to EU corporatist rights.

  10. WG,

    Great or small, what on earth has Turkish accession and EU enlargement to do with with UK criminal justice?

    Why not turn to UK lawyers if you want to get expert opinions on UK law?

  11. Another striking evidence of the EU hypocrisy... The remarks following Turkey's threat to veto Rasmussen reveals the real intentions of the EU. They always want to enjoy their rights but when it comes to Turkey. They are against it. Turkey has the right to enjoy its veto right. They accepted the Southern Cyprus though it has border disputes with another country. What happened to your laws, regulations and principles? Doesn't it apply to Greeks? I believe it is high time Turkey stop aspiring to be a part of a hypocritical organisation. The EU was founded by great people with universal values. It appears that today it is ruled by fascist people. If you want to learn more about this mindset, please visit French activities in the North Africa and German activities before the world war II.

  12. Anonymous,

    Your feelings are easy to grasp, but your arguments less so.

    As far as I know, Northern Cyprus is regarded as occupied territory by the rest of the world, with the exception of Turkey.

    I do not see myself as hypocritical, only critical of the European Union's capacity to enlarge without profound institutional reform, and I see the need for applying strict membership criteria to all candidate states.

    Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949 and the pace of political reforms has been extremely unpromising of late.

    I think that the latest Turkish reactions, such as those of President Gül, have done a disservice to Turkish membership aspirations in Europe.

    As such they only underline the initial question I put in the post.

    One of the main forces driving European integration has been to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past by not giving in to any ideology with totalitarian aspirations.

    This includes any religion, whose representatives want to dictate the secular order of the European Union.

  13. The secular order of the European Union? Hmm, with established religions in Germany, Finland, England, you name it, I don't know. Even though much of the European population are secular, not all of their governments are. Plus many Europeans, fortunately not all, do not have much respect for those having other faith backgrounds.

  14. Anonymous,

    The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights offers an overview of the freedoms and rights the EU has undertaken to defend.

    They include the freedom of expression and information, as well as the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    You are right in that there are many churches, religious associations and communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations within the European Union, but the founding values of the EU are 'universal' and secular.

    As such, when the EU prohibits discrimination on religious and other grounds, this is not tied to any specific religion or belief.


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