Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Turkey and EU: Will they get there club jacket?

The distraction of Iraq and the plethora of scandals that seems to be pervasively revealing themselves among the chaos of the Bush administration; it is easy to forget the importance of events that are unfolding elsewhere. As America turns her glance inwards the EU has turned it’s to the East, more specifically Turkey. With in 12 months the EU will begin negotiations with its Muslim neighbor for entree to the 27 nation-strong economic and political club. Among the hope that Turkey will be in queue for entry within the next five years, many have expressed doubts. A recent case-study released from the popular magazine The Economist shows that sentiments are very much against Turkish entry.

Despite the German fear to Turkish entry, and a spotty human rights record as the old saying goes, there is no time like the present. Turkey will certainly benefit from the tumult of elections coming in France as its president Jacques Chirac prepares to retire. Even if the vote happens before the election the new array of French potentials will attempt to show the 2 million Muslim population that they are willing to accept Muslims into the club. It would be a photo opportunity to win some support after the catastrophic street riots last year. German Chancellor Ms. Merkel has made her opinion quite opaque as to wither she would use her immense veto power against Turkish entrée. Germany has experienced a recent wave of Turkish immigrants, many illegal which has made many Germans worried about general stability and high unemployment. A good deal of these concerns are somewhat unfounded seeing as Germany has made a miraculous recovery in savings and has lowered its public debt (Masstricht) by 38% in the last 5 years. Germany is also seeing a great deal of stable growth 3.5% GDP per year. Germans should be embracing the immigration which will supply cheap labor and add some much need revenue to the national coffers.

A fall out between Turkey and the EU will demonstrate to Muslims everywhere that they are not welcome in the west’s various economic and social institutions. In this time of delicate relations with the Middle East, the EU has the opportunity to turn the tide and win some badly needed” brownie points” with its own Muslim population. Turkey’s admittance to the EU would be less controversial than some of the central European entrance. Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, and Croatia are not only do not meet most of the charter requirements, but are in the red on human rights (especially Bulgaria). It is my opinion that Turkey should be admitted immediately. However, it will take a lot of convincing to get France and Germany on board. Nicolas Sarkozy of the Center-right party and the likely successor for Chirac has said many times that, “Turkey has no place in the EU.” We can only hope that common sense will override racism and stupidity in time.

No comments: