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MUSTAFA AYDIN > From a vision to pipe-dream: Turkey’s EU connection

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The EU entered 2013 with several convoluted economic and social problems, exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis. The long-discussed multi-speed Europe is now being fully realized. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron triggered the latest discussions in earnest with his proposal to renegotiate Britain’s position within the EU and to put his country’s membership of the EU to a referendum. While the financial crisis is forcing Europe, with German pressure behind it, toward tighter integration and further empowerment of the Euro in order to avoid national shortcomings in future financial crises, the U.K. - always skeptical of deeper integration - even moved to retract judicial and policing powers that it had earlier allotted to the EU. However, the real threat for the EU, as George Friedman highlighted, is the still rising unemployment rate and its social effects across the European continent.

With this background in mind, looking at Turkey’s current position in its accession negotiations with the EU necessitates a painful assessment. Although the passing of the rotating EU Presidency to Ireland on Jan. 1 somewhat raised hopes for negotiations, the reality is in fact not so bright. While the “Positive Agenda” that intended to avoid a car crash during the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus was agreed on in May 2012, Turkey put its political relations with the EU on hold when Cyprus took the presidency in July 1, 2012. In reality, there was actually nothing to put on hold by then. The real suspension actually goes back to June 30, 2010, when the last chapter on “Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy” was opened. For good measure, Turkey has so far been allowed to provisionally close only one of the 13 opened chapters. Though the Irish presidency is trumpeted to bring back some of the lost momentum to relations, these hopes will be in vain without real change in preventive factors.

The Cyprus problem is still the main obstacle. Eight chapters are suspended due to Turkey’s refusal to implement the Additional Protocol. The EU shares this burden as it did not keep its promise regarding direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots. However, the real obstacle is the use of the Cyprus issue by some members - particularly Germany and France - to block Turkey’s membership. This is the soft, or hard, underbelly.

Beyond the Additional Protocol, France and the Republic of Cyprus are blocking the opening of another 11 chapters due to political reasons - although there are no related technical benchmarks - leaving only three chapters for negotiation. Anyway, Germany and France have already called for a “privileged partnership,” rather than full membership, for Turkey. Despite the fact that François Hollande’s election to the French Presidency in May 2012 had raised hopes for a change in France’s stance, nothing substantial has happened so far. We are now waiting for his possible visit to Turkey in February or March to see a move.

There are also changes emanating from Turkey. The reform process has undoubtedly slowed down, if not halted altogether, since 2007, and the complicated international agenda has moved Turkey’s attention away from the EU. While the EU has been struggling with its financial problems, Turkey has started to engage Middle Eastern countries - to the detriment of its European connection. The European connection has been damaged so much that Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış released Turkey’s own self-penned progress report last week, after criticizing the latest Commission report on Turkey as “subjective, biased, unwarranted and bigoted.”

Is there hope after all for Turkey’s EU connection? Although one needs to hope, I very much doubt it. Given Turkey’s current predisposition in its international relations and the EU’s ongoing troubles, there is at present no EU vision for Turkey. The EU connection will for now remain a dream for another day.

January/10/2013

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DORUS LIVIS

1/16/2013 2:53:44 PM

@Cilginbebek: I don't remember any parties on the Greek streets when Turkey's economy was in a mess in the 90s. At the same period Greece was one of the first countries to assist you on the big earthquake of 1999. Anyway anyone can choose to remember in a selective basis and to hate or not. I choose not to hate, maybe you should try it too

Cilginbebek Ms

1/11/2013 5:11:32 PM

@ Dorus: I never stated I wanted to see Greece "down". Greece is beyond "down" my friend. It is in a bottomless abyss! I was merely reiterating the facts which you tend to ignore, brush over and deny. Don't pretend for one second that if the shoe were on the other foot, Greece would be celebrating in the streets if Turkey's economic situation were dire. At least Turkey is helping Greeks, and allowing them to live and work there. Dependence on EU will not improve Greece's condition.

DORUS LIVIS

1/11/2013 11:40:33 AM

@Cilginbebek: your problem is that because of a "strange" antagonistic feeling you want to see Greece on its knees, but you will not. The difference is that I don't have a problem with Turkey's prosperity, I just want prosperity for my country as well. While at the same time you want to see Greece down, that is why I am talking about "bad intention" in the other article. You know very little about the situation in Europe apparently, because the debt crisis is a common problem for all

Cilginbebek Ms

1/11/2013 3:38:28 AM

@ Dutchman: Is the EU doing better than Turkey right now? Go calculate that analysis my friend, then get back to us. If Turkey were Christian, had nothing to offer, and was communist maybe you would accept us right? But because we are powerful and Muslim, you don't want us in the EU. Well guess what? Turkey isn't going nowhere my friend. We are getting stronger with or without the EU. Whereas Greeks and other European countries are not. We will see who remains standing in ten years.

gercek sesi

1/11/2013 12:56:42 AM

@pawel, hello again!in mr aydins article you forgot to mention "The EU shares this burden as it did not keep its promise regarding direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots" this has occured because your motherland of greece threatened enlargement of the eu with its veto if greek cyprus was not allowed to join. we have seen that the major players of the eu recognize that g- cyprus should never have been allowed to join w/o a solution in cyprus. if your greek side want a solution there will be one!!

Cilginbebek Ms

1/10/2013 9:50:37 PM

@ Dorus: I never said Greece and South Cyprus is powerful. The propaganda you spread is no longer effective. In the next ten years we will see what happens my Greek friends. We will see who is standing. Turkey who has always stood on its own resourceful two feet. Or, Greece and South Cyprus who continuously borrow, never repays, and doesn't produce. And Greece and South Cyprus are to blame for the demise of the EU. Ask other EU countries how they feel about Greeks.

ilker avni

1/10/2013 7:35:11 PM

The dream that was once a single tradeing market has turned into a united German super state,that has tricked countries to join a single currency set up by the Germans without any political basis which brought about uncertainty and the near collapse of the Euro and the ecnomies of several EU members,this was just a trap,to enslave those whose spendding went out of controll of the budget set up by Germany,to tow the German line Austerity and misery introduced by Mrs Merkel in return for bailouts.

ilker avni

1/10/2013 4:31:45 PM

@Dutchman Both the EU and Turkey will survive you say, Turkey will Survive but i would not lay any bets about the EU,with Britain leading the way out of the coruppt Eu many will follow me thinks.The Eu has gone beyond why countries wanting to join a single tradeing market,thats what the EU was about,now its just a united German fourth reich,who controlls the budget and the running of your affairs,enslaveing citizens to poverty and misery.

Pawel Bury

1/10/2013 4:09:59 PM

This is a really very nice analysis. It is obvious that even if Republic of Cyprus was not an issue, Turkey cannot open the rest of the chapters. Turkish politicians usually put the blame on Cyprus for internal political reasons but the truth is that Turkey is not ready. If she was, Cyprus would not be much of a problem. My congrats to Mr Aydin. He is the only one in HDN who refers to Republic of Cyprus with it's constitutional acknowledged name and not as "Greek authority" or "Greek Cyprus".

DORUS LIVIS

1/10/2013 2:03:25 PM

@Cilginbebek, Is Greece and Cyprus so powerful to destroy economically the whole Europe? That's impressive, respect!
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