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Old 10-03-2005, 05:18 PM   #1
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EU - Turkey relations, here's to another averted crisis!

after 30 hours of intensive diplomatic traffic and one to one negotiations (thats how long it takes to convince one austrian about turkish membership) with austria, britain was finally able to start the negotiations with turkey about 4 hours ago. now, this was just the beginning, literally, so god knows how many decades it will take before turkey becomes a member. anyway, here's to another averted crisis

and anyone wondering why austria was stuck to one lousy point, see below.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4304396.stm

Why Austria was a sticking point

One country, Austria, held up the start of the EU's accession talks with Turkey.

The disagreement centred on the text defining a framework for the negotiations - and specifically the ultimate goal the negotiations should aim at.

In some ways it might seem like a small point.

Everyone agreed that the negotiations would be "an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand".

In other words they recognised that the goal, whatever it is, may not be reached.

Everyone also agreed that if the talks fail, the EU will seek the "strongest possible bond" with Turkey.

And everyone but Austria accepted that the goal of the negotiations should be full membership.

What Austria wanted to be made explicit in the negotiating framework was that the talks could result in something other than full membership, such as "privileged partnership".

Xenophobia

Professor Anton Pelinka of Innsbruck University told the BBC News website that both the Austrian government and Austrian public opinion had been hardening against the idea of Turkish membership in recent months.


"It's a lot to do with xenophobia," he said.


"As in other EU states, discussion of EU matters has been very much confined to the political elite. Now this has suddenly become a broader debate and people who are not interested in European affairs fear that it will mean foreigners coming to Austria, and not even Christians - of course there is a bit of Islamophobia in it."

Public opinion had been influenced by a campaign in the mass-market tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung, he said, while the governing People's Party was feeling vulnerable after doing badly in regional elections.

The opposition Socialists and far-right party of Joerg Haider are both against the idea of membership talks with Turkey.

An opinion poll conducted by Eurobarometer in May and June 2005 showed that Austria was more opposed to Turkish membership than any other EU country.

Eighty percent of those questioned were against, and only 10% for.

Seventy-eight percent feared an increase in immigration, while 73% thought that the cultural differences between Turkey and Western Europe were too great.

The experts who conducted the poll also pointed out that Austrians were unusual in seeing almost no positive side to Turkish membership. Only 24% believed it would increase understanding between Europe and the Muslim world.

Not so isolated

Mr Pelinka rejected the idea that the two sieges of Vienna by the Ottoman army in 1529 and 1683 played a significant role.

He pointed out that Napoleon had conquered the country far more recently.

"I think it is something to do with geopolitics. Austria is on the border with four new EU member states and the general opinion is that we have enough to do to accept the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia," he said.

"The general view is that enough is enough with EU enlargement."

Michael Emerson, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, said that Austria was not as isolated in Europe as it might seem.

"Austria is really a front for France and Germany," he said.

"Both are in a complicated political situation and public opinion in both countries is 70% to 30% against Turkish membership."

He pointed out that powerful political leaders in each country, Nicolas Sarkozy in France and Angela Merkel in Germany, were both opposed to Turkey's bid.

And while President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder both favoured the start of membership talks, Mr Chirac was no longer completely in control, and Mr Schroeder appeared to be on the way out.

AUSTRIA'S PROBLEM
Public still coming to terms with last EU enlargement
Tabloid newspaper campaign against Turkish membership
Governing People's Party feeling vulnerable and isolated
Element of xenophobia and Islamophobia
Memory of Ottoman sieges of Vienna
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:26 PM   #2
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Good to see that this has been 'solved' for now. I suspected that Austria's opposition to the Turkey negotiations had everything to do with its internal political climate. HipHop could probably tell us a lot more about that.

I think opposition to Turkey's entry (even though this is only the negotiation stage; the earliest date at which Turkey could theoretically enter the EU is 2015) has indeed got a lot to do with xenophobia. Though there are many concerns at the moment about Turkey's entry, I do think that the people who think this isn't predominantly about Islam are only fooling themselves.
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:32 PM   #3
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Also, there's the rumour that Austria used the debate about Turkey to pressure the EU to let Croatia enter the EU.
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:32 PM   #4
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It's good to hear it at least got through this stage. I can understand current EU countries having fears and reservations about letting Turkey in, but allowing negotiations to start doesn't guarantee anything. That Austria and other countries could be so opposed to even trying to make it work seems like xenophobia more than anything...
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:41 PM   #5
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I'm glad they've started the talks. The very idea of even opposing the talks is unbelievable.
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Old 10-03-2005, 05:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by DrTeeth
Also, there's the rumour that Austria used the debate about Turkey to pressure the EU to let Croatia enter the EU.
uhhh.. yeah, just read below. austrians pretty much got what they were asking for. perhaps not very surprisingly, carla del ponte gave thumbs up to croatia to go ahead with the talks during the timeframe in which mr straw was trying to seal the deal.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/turkey/sto...583966,00.html

A positive report today from the war crimes tribunal in the Hague may also have helped to soften Austria' stance, as it boosted the chances of EU membership for Croatia, one of Vienna's closest allies.

Croatia's membership talks were suspended in March in what Austria complained was unjustified pressure from Brussels to deliver war criminals for trial.

The Hague tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said Croatia had stepped up its cooperation. "Yes, it is the first time we are saying it's full cooperation," she said on the sidelines of the Luxembourg talks.
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Old 10-03-2005, 11:06 PM   #7
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Yeah, well, I don´t think in this case it has to do that much with xenophobia.

I agree that many people here have racist views and have fear of any culture different than their own.

However, my personal reason why I would Turkey not want to be part of the EU, and the reason of many people I knowwhy they doubt that, is, sadly, the bad record that Turkey has with human rights. Imo, other European countries have too much fear to follow that point consistently, because they just want Turkey to be part of the EU for economical reasons.

Don´t tell me the Germans or the French or Jack Mister Straw wants Turkey inside of the EU for its cultural richness, the diversity of people, or else. I would be all for that. When you walk through the districts in Vienna where many people from Turkey live, they´re always full of life... and I like it (some Austrians apparently do not).

But really, I do think that the case here is more a human rights one than anything else. Even the leftist parties here go in that direction. Ex-PM Tansü Ciller was very hard towards the Kurds.

Also, polls show that very many European people - and not only Austrians - (contrary to the political elite, which always wants to close a quick deal when it comes to free trade) are skeptical about a full membership of Turkey. Bottom line: I don´t think they´re all xenophobic.

But we will have to compromise, as it seems.
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Old 10-04-2005, 11:44 AM   #8
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I would, unfortunately, agree with hiphop's take on this. Despite what is going on at the moment, I still believe that this is clearly another case where the political elite are almost entirely out of touch with European public opinion. It seems that they are still making decisions that many, and I would wager most, are not in full agreement with.

The disaster that was the drafting and consequent proposal for the Constitution should have been a warning to the political elite, but its a warning that has not been taken seriously - the grassroots to the framework of the EU, that is the European people (if such a people even exists, idle politicians and half-measures have seen to it that we still identify ourselves on a national level rather than a European level), are being ignored yet again.

I know for a fact that it is not xenophobia. I have discussed them already before and am not inclined to do so yet again, but my reasons for opposing Turkey's membership is not xenophobic, and I don't know of anyone who's reasons appear to be as such. I do know, however, of many people who do not agree entirely with what is happening at the moment. And politicians can keep on including as many countries and citizens as they like, it still doesn't make the idea of a European Union any more realistic or workable, let alone able to function as a 'union' that will last.

I was personally pleasantly surprised to see Austria oppose, and unpleasantly surprised to see it back down.

But hey, compromise does seem to be the way forward for the EU, as hiphop says. I do wonder, however, if too much has been compromised already, and I do wonder if the original purpose for the creation of the EU was compromised away ages ago.

Ant.
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:43 AM   #9
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Can I ask you guys your opinion? Do you feel that having Turkey as a member of the EU will force it to amend its awful human rights record? Or will it make little difference?

Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony

I do wonder if the original purpose for the creation of the EU was compromised away ages ago.
Ant.
I have to agree with this. If you look at what the British people were told the EEC was way back in 1973 when we joined and what it actually is today as the EU, they are too vastly different things. I doubt that the 'man on the street' in 1973 could have foreseen the cultural policies that would be in place by 2005. Some of these such as the EU leglislation for cleaner beaches have been hugely beneficial for member states, look in particular at the vast improvement of both British and Spanish beaches. But others are frankly not what many envisaged. Who would have thought much of Europe would be sharing a common currency for example?

Without wishing to stray too far off topic I think that there are two main problems with the EU today.

Firstly that member states do not all share the same vision for the future (look at Denmark's rejection of the Euro, the failure of the Constitution in some parts of Europe but not others). How can this ever increasing body possibly be run efficiently if we all want/expect different things from it?

The second problem is the sheer number of differences among member states. At a simple level look at the huge benefits the Republic of Ireland and Spain have seen from membership, then look at the richer economies there like the UK* and Germany, the benefits for them have been considerably smaller. Now I think its great that there are a lot of countries in Europe benefitting so much from membership but as new EU members tend now to be of, shall we say, a poorer nature you have to look at where its going wrong for the richer ones. Perhaps I'm being naive and idealistic in the extreme here but I would like the EU to be benefical for all members, not just a few.

*...This sounds incredibly selfish doesn't it? Like I don't want other nations to benefit from our wealth. It's not that but I look at the problems the UK faces today and look at the money the UK puts into the EU coffers and the money it gets back and there is a deficit. If the UK were some sort of utopia then great! Spread a little bit of joy and happiness everywhere with our cash but it isn't, it's problems just seem to be getting worse. Yes, the UK has had a considerable number of benefits from EU membership but I wonder if perhaps the membership fees are getting just a little bit too high now...
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Old 10-05-2005, 04:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheQuiet1
Can I ask you guys your opinion? Do you feel that having Turkey as a member of the EU will force it to amend its awful human rights record? Or will it make little difference?



I have to agree with this. If you look at what the British people were told the EEC was way back in 1973 when we joined and what it actually is today as the EU, they are too vastly different things. I doubt that the 'man on the street' in 1973 could have foreseen the cultural policies that would be in place by 2005. Some of these such as the EU leglislation for cleaner beaches have been hugely beneficial for member states, look in particular at the vast improvement of both British and Spanish beaches. But others are frankly not what many envisaged. Who would have thought much of Europe would be sharing a common currency for example?

Without wishing to stray too far off topic I think that there are two main problems with the EU today.

Firstly that member states do not all share the same vision for the future (look at Denmark's rejection of the Euro, the failure of the Constitution in some parts of Europe but not others). How can this ever increasing body possibly be run efficiently if we all want/expect different things from it?

The second problem is the sheer number of differences among member states. At a simple level look at the huge benefits the Republic of Ireland and Spain have seen from membership, then look at the richer economies there like the UK* and Germany, the benefits for them have been considerably smaller. Now I think its great that there are a lot of countries in Europe benefitting so much from membership but as new EU members tend now to be of, shall we say, a poorer nature you have to look at where its going wrong for the richer ones. Perhaps I'm being naive and idealistic in the extreme here but I would like the EU to be benefical for all members, not just a few.

*...This sounds incredibly selfish doesn't it? Like I don't want other nations to benefit from our wealth. It's not that but I look at the problems the UK faces today and look at the money the UK puts into the EU coffers and the money it gets back and there is a deficit. If the UK were some sort of utopia then great! Spread a little bit of joy and happiness everywhere with our cash but it isn't, it's problems just seem to be getting worse. Yes, the UK has had a considerable number of benefits from EU membership but I wonder if perhaps the membership fees are getting just a little bit too high now...

A lot of people mentioned the human rights record so far, but have also ignored the fact that it has been continously improving over the years. Does the fact that we are pursuing membership have anything to do with this? Sure it does. Does it have anything to do with the fact that the south eastern part of the country is no more a stage for a war against terror? Sure it does.

I'll tell you about a very interesting, and as a turkish citizen, i must say, disturbing memory of mine. i was in london in the summer of 2003, i walked into a kebab shop late at night, and it turned out the people working there were turkish. one of them told me how he lied to the british immigration officers about how he was tortured by the police to receive political asylum there. i was shocked. i was shocked to see how far some people would go to get a better life. i dont blame him for immigrating, for escaping from unemployment and the economic malaise in the country during the 90s. but i blame him for selling his country for personal gain. anyway, i was even more surprised to find out that the other 2 guys that worked with him did the same thing as well. turkey unfortunately has a bad reputation and these sort of people dont help, either.

i think you should reconsider using the human rights argument next time, because it will surely improve a lot more during the negotiations, and actually discuss the 'real' reasons why you dont want turkey in the EU.

also, if youre looking for human rights abuses, you need not look as far as turkey, maybe you should first look into one of EU member states:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4312144.stm

also, talking in economic terms, you should realize that from 2018 on turkey will be a net contributor to the EU budget.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4307644.stm

excrept:

"But many European politicians fear the potential drain on resources involved in admitting a large and relatively poor country that, on current demographic trends, would become the EU's most populous nation by 2035.

Merrill Lynch's emerging market economist Mehmet Simsek, himself a Turk, takes a more optimistic view.

"Initially, Turkey will be a net recipient [of EU aid]," he told the BBC. "But I think probably from 2018, 2020 onwards, Turkey will actually be a net contributor to the EU budget, on the basis of the fact that Turkey is currently growing three to four times the EU trend growth."

Figures issued by the Turkish government's State Planning Organisation back up this view, suggesting that the country's contribution to EU coffers could be as high as 9bn euros a year by 2020. "
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Old 10-05-2005, 04:51 PM   #11
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I ate a Dürum Kebap today and it was very good I like Turkey for its cultural richness and if you think you really profit from being in the EU... well, well...

Anyway, what is Turkey going to do about the Kurds situation?
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:37 PM   #12
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I know that Turkey's human rights record is pretty bad. I don't ignore human rights records. The Kurdish thing in particular is a problem that hasn't been resolved. But it seems to me that potential EU membership is forcing Turkey to change its tune on human rights, and God knows this needs to include full rights for the Kurdish people including the right to use their own language in their schools and such. As the article all_i_want cites Greece also has some human rights problems, and it is an EU state. Basically, since I am from the U.S, I don't feel like EU policy is any of my damn business. But I'm encouraged by what I've seen Turkey do of late and I'm glad they are at least having the talks. This, of course, does not in any way guarantee that Turkey will ever get EU membership. We'll wait and see what happens.
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
Anyway, what is Turkey going to do about the Kurds situation? [/B]
there are two sides to this issues, and they require different approaches.

Firstly, there is the issue of democratizing and economically developing the region. I think we should give them the rights to express their own culture, which for the most part is in the legislation. implementation is another issue, because unless kurds open their own tv stations (which they can) mainstream media is unlikely to diversify that way. that being said, the state's broadcasting corporation, TRT, does also broadcast in kurdish.

the other issue is the economic development in the southeast, where the turkish citizens of kurdish ethnicity are mostly concentrated. (although istanbul is the biggest kurdish enclave in the world, with 2 million ethnic kurds) there are government incentives to invest in the region, but the economy there has suffered from 2 decades of terrorist (PKK) activity. i think education and health services should be improved in the region, as well as economy.

i think we need to listen to the people there, finally, and bring the region up to par with the western part of the country. that region has been ignored for long and you cant solve a problem by pretending it doesnt exist. they are citizens of this country too and they should be allowed the same rights i have.

now, there is the second side of the issue, which is dealing with the kurdish terrorist organization that is trying to start a kurdish state in the region, PKK. they have caused incredible regression in the quality of life in the region for 2 decades, started a de facto war that has claimed the lives of 30,000 turkish citizens, and now they are based in northern iraq. lately they have stepped up their activities and they started planting bombs in buses and landmines on the roads, again. there is only one way to finish off this kind of hostile activity, and that is dispersing the PKK bases in northern iraq. US hasnt helped us with this threat so far, (probably because we didnt let them use turkish soil for the invasion) and unless the situation is handled soon, it could spiral out of control. i hope and pray for the best solution but i should also say that turkey will act the way any nation state would act if their citizens were under attack.
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Old 10-06-2005, 06:15 AM   #14
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So you feel, all_i_want, that given time, Turkey's EU membership would be benefical for all concerned? Having read your post I can see that the figures would show you're probably right. But I've got (yet another) question, what do you personally and Turkey as a country want to get out of EU membership? I only ask because as I said in my earlier post a lot of the members want different things from it. So I was wondering whether the newer members are more prepared/happy to integrate than some of the older ones. (Although I suppose Sweden joined in 1995 and hasn't been so keen on some of the policies).

On the subject of human rights I saw (quite a while ago now) a BBC news report on Turkey's membership bid and it talked about how it had been 'cleaning up its act' with regards to human rights. So do you feel Turkey (because I don't really know a lot about the place) has now got a 'spotless' human rights record or does still have a little way to go? If so, are you saying EU membership would be the final push it needs?

Personally I think Turkey should be admitted. Even ignoring all the benefits it would bring to Turkish citizens (because I think it would do that), the political benefits to us of having this 'bridge nation' in the EU and the apparent economic benefits to the organisation in the future- let's go completely nuts and just base it on pure sentimentality. Turkey has been part of European history for centuries, just as much so as France or Spain. If it wants to be regarded as an European nation by joining the EU (which sends out quite a statement) then it's just as entitled to do so as......Norway could. yeah, I know it's a ridiculous thing to base membership on but you know, that has come up as a minor point hasn't it? That Turkey shouldn't join due to the cultural difference and that it isn't a 'proper' European country? I'm just saying that historically Turkey doesn't seem to agree. :muddledirrelevantthoughts:
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