Tuesday 7 April 2009

USA: Adopt Turkey and Mexico

Eurocentric of The European Citizen wrote a post called America, the 28th Member State? on President Obama’s support for Turkish membership in the European Union.

Eurocentric reacted to Turkish EU membership being spoken of as a US foreign policy tool and as a “feel good” gesture of reaching out to a country, without taking the obligations of membership into account. American media treatment of the question lacked comprehension of how the European Union works.


I have long ago given up hope with regard to US governments and public opinion.

The only new thing about Obama's invitation was that it was made by him, because all the American administrations I can remember have supported Turkey's entry into the European Union for reasons of US geostrategic interests.

It is hard to find even a flimsy pretext for Turkish entry being in the interest of the European Union.

Having been brought up to think that it is bad form to invite guests to your neighbour's party, I think the only way to make Americans realise the challenges is by reversing the situation:

This was the reason for yesterday’s post: Let the United States adopt Turkey and Mexico, with loud and clear endorsement from Europe.

To continue on this path, the US has clear advantages.

It is hard to enter the European Union. The accession treaty has to be concluded with all the member states (27), so each one has a veto. In addition, each one has to ratify the treaty allowing in a new member. Finally, constitutionally the European Union is not equipped even for its existing membership. It is neither effective enough nor democratic.

Compare this with the United States, which has a democratic Constitution of more than 200 years. Only two requirements regulate the acceptance of new states.

According to Article IV, Section 4, the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government.

Article IV, Section 3, allows Congress to admit new States into the Union.

Piece of cake, compared to Europe.


In other words, if the United States of America wants to reach out and to serve its geopolitical interests, let it invite Turkey and Mexico as the 51st and 52nd states.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Outreach between religions should resonate well in the United States and Turkey. Both are formally secular countries, but imbued by religion, and as such culturally compatible way beyond the potential of the European Union.


My challenge to readers is to argue for or against the United States adopting Turkey and Mexico as new states.

Ralf Grahn


  1. Good morning!

    I had a huge (friendly) argument with some Turkish students about this issue some weeks back.

    It does seem to be in the EU's long-term interests for Turkey to be a member-state. It has a history which straddles Europe and the Middle-East, and could act as a bridge between the two (although some fear this would literally become the case). Turkey's inclusion would also create an influx of labour at a time when Europe will be experiencing a demographic shortage.

    If a potential member-state fulfils the Copenhagen criteria, then it should be allowed entry. The problem with Turkey is that there are still human rights concerns to do with the Kurds, Armenia, censorship, etc. I don't see Turkish membership becoming a reality within a decade.

    Certainly not before the Balkan states have fully been absorbed.

    Will Turkey be able to wait that long? I hope so.

  2. Josef,

    My real questions are addressed to Americans. Are they willing to adopt Turkey and Mexico?

    If not, it would be interesting to know why.

    Obama, like previous US administrations, are using Europe (the EU) to further their strategic interests, not ours.

    We are invited only to pay the bill.

  3. Sorry, Ralf! I realise now I wasn't addressing your challenge at all! My excuse is that I wrote my first post in a rush this morning.

    In terms of the US adopting Turkey and Mexico, I can only speak from a European perspective.

    I can't see a valid geographical or historical argument for the US adopting Turkey as a state. More importantly: it would seriously upset the balance of power in the region. Iran would never give up the development of nuclear weapons if the US annexed Turkey. I don't forsee such a problem if/when Turkey joins the EU. European softpower is (possibly) stronger. Though I could be wrong about this.

    As for Mexico joining the United States. Turkey has applied to become a member of the EU, Mexico has (as far as I'm aware) never articulated any desire to be absorbed by the United States.

    There is also the same issue of balance of power. Any expansion of the US (the dominant hegemon) is viewed with suspicion by other states and could serve to undermine internatioanl security. The EU, on the other hand, is being encouraged to expand, both by the US to shoulder more of the burden, and by critics of the US to act as a counterweight.

    Having said all that: I take your point about it being very easy for Obama to tell the EU to absorb Turkey.

    I've recently come to appreciate just how much the US supports EU expansion. They were really backing the expansion into Eastern Europe after the fall of the USSR, and they're backing it again now with Turkey.

    But whether Obama was telling us to do it or not, it's still something we have to consider. The issue of Turkey joining the EU exists, and Obama was merely highlighting it, rather than suggesting it for the first time.

    Still, just as with Eastern Europe, enlargement will be at least a decade away and this will greatly frustrate the US.

    First the constitutional question needs to be resolved. Then the Balkan states are next in line. Iceland has to decide whether or not it wants membership. Then possibly Norway and Switzerland have to either reaffirm their commitment to stay outside of the EU or to join fully. Then, finally, the issue of Turkey can be addressed. By this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Turkey no longer even wanted to be a member.

  4. I would echo a lot of what Josef said, though I think that Turkey could be admitted before the entire western Balkans is, though of course it depends on politics in both the EU and Turkey.

    Grahnlaw: While I share your frustration with the American media on the EU, I think that it's not such a hopeless cause since the American public seem a lot more interested in geopolitics than the publics of the EU. There are some media reports of the EU's political side and political potential. The big problem is, along with misinformation and ignorance, the lack of joint-up thinking: the economic and political are treated as entirely separate, and usually understood from an extreme ideological standpoint which ignores the general middle-of-the-road quality of a lot of what it does, as well as the radicalness of what the EU is. But since the EU is so hotly contested in what it is, and where is should go, this isn't too surprising.

    However, the lack of effort is terrible, and just shows lazy journalism. They pick up on an arcane breach of etiquette with the Queen (which largely goes unnoticed by the majority of UK citizens), yet somehow miss the explicit condemnation of how the President has acted by 2 large European countries during a trip centred on building bridges with the Europeans?

    I think Turkey does have potential strategic advantages for Europe. It's a corridor for energy supplies which could be secured; and economic control of the Bosphorus (sp? - entry to the Black Sea, anyway) could be a useful lever. Its strong defence force could add substance to a EU defence identity, and opposition to such an identity would weaken within NATO if Turkey was converted to participating in the process. Plus the points Josef raised.

  5. Josef and Eurocentric,

    Your viewpoints are reasonable, and I would have argued along similar lines a few years back.

    Increasingly I have come to see expansion of a creaky union as something leading astray.

    Without profound reform, the EU is not capable of doing enough good.

    After accession it has enormous difficulties in achieving internal reform in countries already inside.

    A clear distinction should be made between deep political union and the European Economic Area (which could accommodate new countries).


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