Skip to comments.EU puts Turks on 10-year timeline
Posted on 10/06/2004 10:25:30 AM PDT by knighthawk
AFTER 40 years of hesitation and seven hard years of reform and lobbying, Turkey is basking today in the most qualified of invitations to begin the process of joining Europe - a continent whose eastern half the Ottoman empire controlled for centuries.
A European Commission report released yesterday, which paves the way for a deciding vote by the 25-member European Union at its December summit, was heavily qualified, and Turkish leaders were muted in their expressions of delight at their initial success.
Presenting the decision to the European parliament last night, commission president Romano Prodi said it was a "qualified yes" to Turkey. There was a "large consensus" -- but the commissioners who decided on the recommendation were not unanimous, and no date was set for the start of the accession process.
"The talks will be an open-ended process whose outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand," their report said.
Underlining the blocks still in the way of Turkey's membership, EC Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler stressed that a yes "in principle" had been given, but further conditions needed to be fulfilled. "There is no more ground to be opposed fundamentally to the start of entry talks," he said. "It is also clear there is still a lot to do."
Despite these careful qualifications from Brussels, the way is now clear for the most drastic re-engineering in the history of the European Union. Turkey is the first large Islamic nation to begin talks on joining Europe, and also the first nation with the majority of its land-mass lying beyond the traditional geographic boundaries of Europe.
The report describes the prospect of Turkey's membership as a challenge both for the EU and for Turkey, and stresses that the membership talks might take 10 years, a timeframe in which the EU would evolve and Turkey would have to change even more radically.
The document, prepared by EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, is unequivocal in stating that Turkey has "sufficiently fulfilled" the political criteria the European member countries imposed as the basic conditions for the Muslim nation to begin talks on membership.
This endorsement follows a range of legal and constitutional reforms overseen by Turkey's innovative but socially conservative Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erodgan.
But Mr Erodgan's triumph is overshadowed by the EC's scepticism. Several commissioners are privately opposed to Turkey's bid, while public opinion in two key EU nations, France and Germany, is hostile. Some EU members are concerned that admitting Turkey will have a strong economic and demographic impact on the union. Turkey, a fast-growing nation of 71million, would be the largest EU country by 2020, and the cost of economic subsidies to Ankara from Brussels might be as high as E30 million ($50million) a year.
And a deeper concern lurks behind the scenes. Not only has Turkey's accession to the EU become caught up in Europe's protracted internal debate over its growing Islamic minorities and the threat of terrorism, there is also widespread concern that Turkish membership will trigger a vast flow of migrant workers into western Europe. Because of this, the incoming European commissioner responsible for EU enlargement, Olli Rehn, told the European parliament yesterday he would insist on a special provision that would allow the EU to close its borders against Turkish workers indefinitely at any time in the future.
Turkey's performance on human rights and on preventing police torture in its jails will be strictly monitored, and if the EC detects any failures on these fronts it will have the power to interrupt the accession talks.
With such constraints, Mr Erdogan, who has just come back from a last-minute public relations tour of the European capitals, is hard-pressed to present the EU report as an unqualified victory.
But he has little choice but to push ahead with his reform and economic liberalisation strategy, and has made plain that even without the goal of EU membership Turkey will continue on its Westernised modernising route.
If people want on or off this list, please let me know.
I hope this will satisfy the US State Department, since they lobbied quite hard about that.
Turkey in facts and figures
ANKARA, Oct 6 (AFP) - Turkey, which hopes to get the nod Wednesday for a date in December to launch membership talks with the European Union, lies at the centre of a strategic zone between the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Balkans.
Following is a factsheet on Turkey, comparing some figures with those of the European Union:
GEOGRAPHY: Covering an area of 779,452 square kilometres (311,781 square miles), Turkey borders Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece and Bulgaria, and is washed by the Mediterranean to the south, the Aegean to the west and the Black Sea to the north, and surrounds the Sea of Marmara. It is divided between two continents, Europe and Asia. The area west of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus (the straits between Europe and Asia) accounts for five percent of the total.
Comparatively, the total area of the EU countries is 3,691,214 sq km (1,476,486 sq miles).
POPULATION: 70.7 million inhabitants (2003), including 13 to 19 million Kurds.
With Turkey joining, the EU's population, which stood at 455 million in January 2004, would pass the half-billion mark.
CAPITAL: Ankara, population 3.5 million.
Istanbul is the country's largest city and industrial and commercial hub with a population in excess of 10 million (Turkish State Statistics Institute, 2000 - latest figures available).
OFFICAL LANGUAGE: Turkish.
The EU currently has 20 official, but only three working languages: English, French and German.
RELIGION: Muslim (99 percent): 80 percent Sunni, 20 percent Alevi. Armenians form the largest religious minority, with about 45,000 people, followed by some 35,000 Jews.
Turkey's entry into the EU would bring the number of Muslims in the European bloc to around 80 million.
RECENT HISTORY: Founded in 1923, the Republic of Turkey was created after the collapse of the Ottoman empire at the end of World War I. The republic became a modern secular state under its founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ("father of the Turks"), until his death in 1938. His successor, Ismet Inonu, ran the counry as a single-party dictatorship until 1946, when he introduced a multi-party system. Turkey was the scene of military coups, followed by periods of repression, in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
From 1984 to 1999, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) led an armed rebellion in southeastern Turkey, which claimed more than 37,000 lives. The PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and many other countries and international organisations, called a unilateral truce after the capture in Kenya in 1999 of its founder and leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who was tried and sentenced to death; his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
The PKK has changed names several times since, and its latest incarnation, the Kurdistan People's Congress (KONGRA-GEL), in June announced the end of their truce, which the Turkish army had never recognized.
POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS: Ahmet Necdet Sezer has been president since May 5, 2000.
Necmettin Erbakan, leader of the Welfare Party, became Turkey's first Islamic prime minister on June 28, 1996, in a coalition with his predecessor, Tansu Ciller, the country's first woman premier.
He was pressured into resigning by the army in June 1997 and was replaced by Mesut Yilmaz, leader of the Motherland Party, who headed a left-right coalition.
The Yilmaz coalition fell from power in November 1998 amid allegations of corruption and links to organised crime. It was replaced by another left-right coalition led by Bulent Ecevit.
In general elections in November 2002, the Justice and Devlopment Party (AKP), which has its roots in radical Islam but describes itself as simply "conservative", swept to power and obtained the absolute majority of seats in Parliament. Its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, became prime minister in March 2003.
ECONOMY: The economy, which is based mainly on textiles, light industry, tourism and agriculture, saw considerable growth until it was hit by a severe crisis in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1991.
With 14 million foreign visitors generating 13.2 billion dollars of income, tourism in 2003 was the country's biggest earner. Long hit by PKK terror attacks and the effects of the Gulf War, the sector boomed in 2003 and 2004, with incoming tourist figures increasing by 43.5% for the first six months of this year compared with the first six months of 2003.
Turkey has been linked with the EU with an association accord signed in 1963 and a customs agreement signed in 1996.
Turkey's candidacy for EU membership was rejected in 1989, largely due to its human rights record, but was accepted on December 10, 1999.
GNP PER CAPITA: 2.790 dollars.
By comparison, the highest per capita GNP in the EU belongs to Luxembourg, with 38,830 dollars; the lowest, Latvia's, is 3,480 dollars. The average per capita GNP of the EU is 19,775 dollars (World Bank, 2003).
FOREIGN DEBT: 147.035 billion dollars (Turkish State Statistics Institute, 2003)
ARMED FORCES: 514,850 men, of whom 402,000 are land forces, 52,750 naval forces and 60,100 air forces (IISS 2003/2004).
Hey look...The EU is suckering in more countries into their master plan. Yet another country that has to decide if they want to enter into an "agreement" (cough) where their citizens will pay taxes to the EU....but surrender most of their decision making and quite a bit of their rights to 3 or 4 countries.
NOTE TO EUROPE: When folks like Germany start talking about a unification of countries...and ....in one of the legislative meetings ...bring up the idea that German and France take command of all the militaries.....
IT'S TIME TO START REMEMBERING HISTORY! THINK PANZER DIVISION ROLLING THROUGH THE TOWNSHIPS!
"....Back in the USSR"
Would you add me please? Thanks.
The EU is going to have to cough up big bucks to pay for their welfare programs.
Don't you want Turkey in EU :-) ?
You should know that US government support Turkey in their efforts to join EU. Most countries like France or Germany are more or less against it.
Well, I am of two minds about it. Eastern Europe has just joined the EU and needs to reap the benefits of their economical and political efforts before we "spring" another country on them.
Given its economy and population, Turkey will change the EU economical scene almost overnight, and I'm worried about the newest members discovering that they just lost their fiscal and cost-of-life advantages after just a few years.
Added you to the list.
So, they finally found a way to destroy the EU.
Note: this topic was posted October 06 2004, iow over nine years ago. A lot has changed. Thanks knighthawk.
Ukraine, are you reading?:-)