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The Turkey and EU impass

by Upstate NY Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 04:01:02 AM EST

Promoted from the diaries (with small edit) ~ whataboutbob

Turkey rejects conditions

This is the latest on the talks this weekend over Turkish accession. Apparently, the Brits, Germans and French have agreed to a supplemental sheet nullifying Turkey's codicil which in effect nullifies the customs union with the entire EU. The new amendment states that Turkey must open its ports to Cyprus. Turkey's FM has already rejected the idea. Hence, they are at loggerheads. What isn't known presently is whether France will insist that the customs union be put into effect prior to the start of negotiations. Some believe the EU is still in disagreement over this. But all are agreed that the customs union will not go into effect for ALL EU countries until the ban on Cypriot ships is lifted.

So, essentially, the EU has now hit a snag that was not at all addressed or envisioned in last December's decision to begin negotiations. Once again, the EU is not doing its homework, and its cavalier attitude toward diplomacy is constantly getting it in the way. When negotiating a customs union next time, make sure the terms are spelled out completely so that codicils nullifying codicils nullifying codicils become unnecessary.

Say what you will about France's recent conversion on Turkey, but it has removed one big headache from the accession process. Everyone feared that Cyprus would immediately sue to implement the customs union and therefore would muck up the accession process and the EU court system, but France's power play has produced some unity on the issue. Now, Cyprus has no right to sue because there will be no customs union unless it's applied to all 25 states.

Well, it sounds like Turkey is digging in its heals...if I'm understanding it correctly...and if that's the case, their "its my way or the highway" stance will result in their being rejected.

I'll be curious to see if the EU countries negotiating with Turkey back down or push back. What do you  think will happen? (Thanks for posting this important imformation)

PS: Turkey posts seem to bring out heated feelings in people...so don't be surprised...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Thu Sep 1st, 2005 at 03:07:06 PM EST
My take: The EU will back down and begin negotiations with Turkey on OCt. 3rd. This will allow everyone to save face. Behind the scenes, there will be hardcore negotiations that assure the core of EU countries united on the customs issue that Turkey will be immediately pressed to comply with the customs union. when you think about it, this should have been dealt with in December 2004. The customs union was the last condition for beginning negotiations. Instead, the customs union controversy will now be imported into the accession negotiations.

So, in short, they'll put on a good show, officially begin negotiations, and then it will all grind to a complete and utter standstill until that day that the cyprus issue is taken up with some new and clear thinking.

by Upstate NY on Thu Sep 1st, 2005 at 03:18:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know why you blame the EU here. Last year's agreement came short of requiring recognition of Cyprus by Turkey, and used what can be argued to be a smart (and pretty typical) fudge, i.e. a customs union which means some recognition of Cyprus (via the trade clauses) but not the real formal stuff.

Turkey changed the terms by eliminating the ambiguity and signing the trade agreement specifying that it did not mean recognition of Cyprus, and thus refusing access of their ships. The EU had to react there, and it's a lot better that it's one of the big countries and not Cyprus or Greece on the front lines of this.

You're right that this showdown makes things clearer, if not easier to solve. Blocking the negotiations now would make little sense for either side, but rationality does not seem to be the most widely shared quality among world leaders these days...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 2nd, 2005 at 03:05:28 PM EST
Jerome, the EU actually was on board with Turkey's codicil from the beginning. Erdogan almost walked away when they demanded he include Cyprus in the customs union. He was only brought back by Blair who cut a deal with him. The codicil was part of the deal. However, one has to wonder what was said. I clearly remember that many EU members insisted that Turkey honor a customs union deal with Cyprus, even in the absence of recognition. Yet, why did Turkey feel emboldened enough to effectively nullify that customs union? And why did the UK Presidency issue a mealy-mouthed reaction to the codicil that did not disapprove of it in the least? In other words, by my estimation, the EU is telling the Turks one thing and then other members are reacting in their own way. I do blame Turkey for its policies, but I don't blame them for their negotiations, which I consider to be mainly botched by the EU's multiple interests. The EU simply can't speak with one voice on this matter.
by Upstate NY on Fri Sep 2nd, 2005 at 06:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if Turks behave like the Americans and the Russians and play countries against one another instead of talking to the EU maybe they don't belong in the EU.

Why do they feel emboldened? Because the UK is encouraging them, seeing Turkay's accession as a way to further dilute France and Germany in the EU and make it powerless. Philip Stephens, the mouthpiece of Tony Blair in the FT, made the case yesterday. I won't copy any extract as it was just the silly repetition of the "we must do it to prove that a Muslim country can be integrated in the West" and we're racists if we don't.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 07:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with everything you wrote there. Everyone has their own interests, the UK included, and you have to wonder why the UK wants them in so badly. Turkey would be a powerful ally.
by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 10:56:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran posted this in todays European Breakfast:

Turkey's European future was in serious doubt last night after Ankara warned the EU that it would "walk away for good" if any attempts were made to add new conditions to membership talks.
Brussels was due to enter negotiations with Ankara next month but many EU leaders have balked at the prospect of accepting the poor, populous and predominantly Muslim nation. They have instead floated the idea of offering Turkey a watered-down version of membership.

"Should they [the EU] propose anything short of full membership, or any new conditions, we will walk away," Turkey's Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, told The Economist. "And this time it will be for good.".

- From the Independent

Will they really walk away?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 04:25:22 AM EST
If Turkey walks out or gets denied accession by Brussels, who would suffer the most: the EU or Turkey?

It is a sensitive political issue by its own right, and many people view the accession of Turkey as something better delayed and best shut down. Now backing down for Turkey would be seen as another confirmation of the EU leaders having a weak spine. Never mind what changes have been wrought in Turkey for years and years.

So, how much would Turkey lose, exactly, by not joining the Union? Grands? Import and export benefits? We're back at the benefits of the European Union, which have never been exactly clear to me, anyway. Someone knows a good link?

And, how much would the Union lose, by excluding Turkey for a while?

Myself, I'm not completely undivided about Turkey's accession, but if an issue as Cyprus gets the two at diametrically opposed positions, how could volatile issues such as Kurdistan or the Armenian genocide ever be broached?

by Nomad on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 08:02:41 AM EST
The loss would be Turkey's, mostly. The EU helps countries make efforts that it would otherwise not do towards democracy and better governance. Countries grow richer and more democratic within the EU that they could ever do on their own, and it's not the money (although that helps) - it's the whole institutional framework, the obligation to bring laws to European standards AND to enforce them, the whole process of negotiating for things in a more transparent fashion.

Without the EU, Turkey will remain a low to middle income country with imperfect democracy, mediocre governance and an over-influential military. Nothing wrong with that, of course, from the perspective of a good chunk of their elite, precisely those that stand to lose if the process I described above comes to pass and that are trying to make sure that entry to the EU does not really mean that they would turn into a fully European country.

The only people that will blame the EU for not bringing Turkey in are those like neocon Americans that enjoy blaming Europe in the first place, and see Turkey only though the lense of the military and Muslim angles and don't really care what being in the EU entails (it's something like they do with Mexico in NAFTA, is probably how they consider it). Then the eurosceptic crowd that'a also always EU critical and sees Turkey as a Trojan horse to make Brussels powerless.

As I have said, I am in favor of bringing in Turkey, but it does mean putting in place a number of conditions to make sure that they will fit in the club. It IS our club, and it is up to those inside only to decide who to bring in or not. A poorly designed accession would be good for Turkey, but no so much for Europe. A well designed accession will be good for Turkey, and still a bet for Europe, so if we do decide to do it, we have to make sure that it is a bet that we can win.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 08:31:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

personally, i do not understand for what we do need turkey in the EU, and for what turkey wants into the EU.

the european working class is already competing - and being out-competed by - chinese labor gulags, south-east asian sweat shops. african slavery-based agriculture and mining, south-american impoverished middle class and last-but-not-least by the depressed wages of the "10 new" states.

of course, for decades turkey has sent, and many european states have taken, the (sub) proletariat and disenfranchised religious and racial not-so-minorities so that that steaming bowl of shit into which turkey has been converted since mustafa kemal could remain manageable by the drug mafias allied with the US and european "elites". europe has gained a new underclass by way of this process, now soon 50 years in the making, and turkey plus other depotic semi-criminal regimes around the world have been able to get rid of the edge of discontent which would have definitely destabilized them.

so, for what do we - the unwashed masses - need turkey in the EU, and for what do the usual cliques of banksters, loot-capitalists, drug barons and other assorted scum want turkey in ? is it as a payment for denying the US a northern flank ? is it to secure the continued flow of drugs into europe ? is it do definitely screw the european middle and lower classes ?

whatever the reason, there will be IMO far more loosers than winners if this happens.

needless to say, i am against turkey in the EU.

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 08:26:00 AM EST
Maybe in the short run Turkey will be the loser if it is not able to join the EU, but I wonder about the long term effect. As it is now, the government in Turkey must walk a vary narrow line to prove that it is both "western enough" for the EU but "Islamic enough" for the majority of the population. If the EU deal falls through, what is to keep Turkey from evolving into yet another reactionary Islamic country?

If that happens it seems reasonable to expect Turkey to diverge from Europe (if it was ever really part of Europe in the first place) and move towards a much closer relationship with the Middle East. After America wises up and leaves Iraq, and after the inevitable Wahabi revolt in Saudi Arabia, there will again be a broad and fundamentalist Islamic territory that spans from the southern and eastern Med all the way to India. And it will be one rich and powerful player on the global stage.

If this happens, the world will be worse off.

by asdf on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 10:44:32 AM EST
The last Turkish PM who tried to allow Islamic women to put on headscarves was overthrown in a coup and jailed. This didn't happen a few decades ago. It happened in the late 1990s.

In short, for your vision to come through, the Turkish military would have to be overthrown.

by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 11:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Turkish military has to lose its power for Turkey to enter the EU.

That's one of things that has to happen in the fifteen years.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 12:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. I was a bit vague by my use of the word "vision." I was referencing to the malign vision of a Turkey under Shiiria law.
by Upstate NY on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 08:45:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Was it ever really part of Europe"? Well depends. How far back do you want to go? Arguably a fair proportion of eastern and central Europe was part of Turkey under the Ottoman empire rather than the other way round. Or should we go back further to Troy or the reknowned goldsmiths of Thrace?

The wider question is how far the EU should spread and how we manage the process. I tend to agree with Jerome that those who seek to become members of the club should demonstrate they obide by the rules before they join. I might moderate that by saying the rules should be clear and the goalposts not moved.

Certainly at present there is no way that Turkey can or should be admitted. There are just too many obstacles that Jerome listed - to which I would add the question of human rights, especially in the context of the Kurds and other minority groups. As part of the conditions I would like to include at least two election cycles that are demonstrably free and fair and certified as such by the appropriate independent observers. (OK at least as fair as UK elections) That would include an assessment of the influence of non-democratic forces like the army.

Unfortunately the influence of the US in promoting Turkey's accession is a malign influence. Far from being a help, it gets people's backs up. Quite rightly. It has also emphasised an eastwards movement of the EU at the expense of those states surrounded by the current EU. Promotion and development of the former Yugoslav states and Albania is imperative, if only to avoid the horrors of the illegal emigrants perishing in the Adriatic. Others like Georgia are perhaps inherently more "European" and far more willing to adopt the letter and more importantly the spirit of the  Acquis.

by Londonbear on Sat Sep 3rd, 2005 at 05:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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