Turkey’s EU Dreams Hindered

From the June 2004 Trumpet Print Edition

A UN plan to reunify Cyprus failed on April 24 when Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the proposal in a referendum. Despite U.S. and EU support for the plan, almost 76 percent of Greek Cypriots voted no. As a result, Cyprus did not join the EU as a united state on May 1, meaning EU laws and benefits will only apply to the Greek Cypriot-controlled southern side of the island.

This is yet another obstacle to Turkey’s dreams for membership in the European Union.

Ankara has been doing everything in its power to strengthen its bid for EU membership. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped Turkey’s enthusiastic support for the reunification plan would aid his country’s efforts in joining the EU.

Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot government, is asking to join the EU when it does not even officially recognize all of its members. Turkey can also expect Cyprus to do everything in its power to block Turkey’s membership.

Turkey’s bid for the EU is more complicated than just the Cyprus settlement. The EU is built upon the traditions of mainly Catholic Christianity. If Turkey joined, it would be second only to Germany in size and would make almost 20 percent of the EU’s population Muslim. This is an obvious concern for the EU.

“Turkey’s entry into the Union is certainly not desirable in the short term,” French President Jacques Chirac said. “My conviction is that it is in the long term. We’re talking about a perspective of 10 to 15 years” (International Herald Tribune, April 30).

The EU is expected to decide on whether Turkey can begin official membership negotiations in December. The outcome will not likely surprise anyone. For more on Turkey’s significance in coming world events, refer to “Turkey: An Act of Revenge!” under “Editor’s Choice” at www.theTrumpet.com.