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Turkey's interest in EU membership plunges

Posted By F. Michael Maloof On 11/24/2012 @ 8:10 pm In Front Page,World | No Comments

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WASHINGTON – After more than two decades of trying, Turkey has all but given up on acquiring membership in the European Union, where it has faced annual rejections from Germany, France and Cyprus, which are concerned with Eastern influences in Europe. Cypriot opposition stems mainly from Greece’s position, since much of Cyprus is under a Greek-backed government, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Now Turkey, which for years has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, regards itself as part of modern Europe but is exhibiting more of an Islamic government. And it is seriously considering giving up its efforts to join the EU if it hasn’t achieved membership by 2023, a decision which could have enormous consequences, especially for Europe.

As a bridge between East and West, Turkey, with its Islamic orientation, has sought to be a major influence with other countries of the Middle East and Central Asia where Ankara had historical impact in its former capacity as the Ottoman Empire.

The influence would be essential for Europe, which needs Turkey for continued political and economic trade with the East. However, a number of the European countries, most notably France, are concerned about Turkey’s government becoming more Islamist. In addition, Turkey continues to deny that the massive killing in 1915 of Armenians was genocide – a position to which France has raised strong objection.

European opposition to Turkey joining the EU stems from a number of issues which were outlined in a report the EU issued in October.

Those concerns included continued restrictions on civil rights, curtailment of freedom of expression, assembly and association. It also revolves around the treatment that the Turkish government has shown to the Kurds and Christian minorities, including journalists.

Reaction from Turkish officials was immediate. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan complained that the Europeans “probably won’t string us along that long (to 2023) but if they do string us along until then the European Union will lose out, and at the very least they will lose Turkey.”

For its part, Germany, which has the largest Turkish population in Europe, has concerns over the integration of Turks into German society and the influx of even more immigrants should Turkey become an EU member.

“Given the resistance of major European powers, there is no clear path for Turkey’s entry into the European Union,” according to a report from the open intelligence group Langley Intelligence Network, or Lignet.

“Turkey is very wary about being drawn into an inter-Islamic conflict, especially in Syria,” Lignet said. “However, mutual interests and opportunities for cooperation exist with the states that surround the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas. The more effectively Turkey promotes regional stability and also asserts herself in this multi-dimensional world, the less attractive EU membership becomes.”

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