Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 20 September 2005

Turkish EU accession talks likely to start on 3rd October

It seems that talks to discuss the detail of Turkey's possible accession to the European Union will begin as scheduled on 3rd October next. There has been some doubt that this would happen, at least partially because Turkey has so far declined to 'recognise' Cyprus; it states that it will do so only only after an international agreement, possibly sponsored by the United Nations, is reached to end the division of the island. The compromise that has been reached, to allow the accession negotiations to begin, is that Turkey recognise Cyprus at some stage during the process, which are expected to take 10 years or more.

This is obviously not an ideal situation as it is essential for every EU member to, at the very least, 'recognise' every other member. There can be no question of Turkey ever becoming a member until it formally recognises every other existing member - and Cyprus is, for better or worse, already a member.

Why do I use the phrase for better or worse? Well, when I last wrote about this (just before the ten new members joined the EU in May 2004), here and here, I made pretty clear my view that it would be a positive move were Turkey to join the EU. In the first of these two posts I referred to the alleged (by the EU's Gunter Verheugen, no less!) machinations by the Greek Cypriot government to engineer the scuppering of reunification between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island (no doubt prompted by the Greek Cypriot Communist Party, AKEL, having withdrawn its support on failing to have the referendum delayed), which was to be the subject of a referendum in both parts of the island. There was no down-side in this action, so far as the Greek Cypriots were concerned, because it had been agreed and in my view probably tacitly engineered by Greece, that the southern part of the island would join the EU as a full member, irrespective of the result of the referendum.

I am pleased that what I believe have probably been the further machinations of Greek Cyprus, and perhaps Greece, to have the start of negotiations with Turkey for its possible entry delayed, possibly forever if they thought they could get away with it, been thwarted.

Of course, quite apart from this there are a number of other EU members who have strong doubts about, or even a visceral objection to, Turkey ever joining the EU, very largely based (in my view) on their wish to see the EU remain a purely Christian grouping, although of course they play down this aspect. In any case, I always thought that the European Union was a secular body, not a branch of any church, Christian or otherwise! Some also doubt the validity of Turkey's claim to be considered as a part of Europe at all and I'm afraid I consider this to be simply a reflection of the racism which exists in some parts of Europe's population. Turkey must, of course, be held to the same standards as any other EU member, but it seems to me that different criteria are being applied to Turkey by some, for the basest of political reasons, than for example were applied to Slovakia prior to its adhesion to the EU , in connection with its shocking treatment of its 'Roma' population over the years.

To end on a positive note, though, and whilst I accept that the negotiations for Turkish entry to the EU will be long and tortuous, I am glad that the door has not simply been slammed in Turkey's face.

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