Newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy is against Turkey’s membership in the European Union. During his election campaign he voiced his vehement opposition to Turkish accession  saying the sprawling, poor, populous, secular but overwhelmingly Muslim state was in Asia Minor, not Europe, and that the EU, which has taken in 12 new members since 2004, should consolidate its boders.

President Sarkozy is threatening to veto further European Union membership talks with Turkey and suggests the creation of a “Mediterranean Union” between countries along the Mediterranean rim in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

These proposals are being met with scorn in Turkey and are seen as discrimination against Turkey’s predominately Muslim population.

Turkey is not a Muslim state. It is a secular democracy. It has had its trials along the way – and still has some major problems to deal with – but the democracy is strong and the people are proud of it. In the past four years Turkey has – under Brussels’ supervision – streamlined the economy, achieved a steady annual growth of 5 percent or more, and made more progress towards consolidating human rights than had ever been made during it’s 80 year history as the Republic of Turkey.

Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe and an associate member of the EC/EU for nearly half a century. Since October 2005 Turkey has been negotiating to become a full member of the EU with the approval of the French government of which Sarkozy himself was a prominent member. There is no European network of importance of which Turkey is not a part. Since 1952 Turkey has been a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization although Turkey is nowhere near the North Atlantic.

The problems that have arizen during EU negotiatons are perceived as deliberate roadblocks designed to keep Turkey out of the EU “Christian” club. The more people like Sarkozy continue to fight against Turkey’s membership in the EU the more they are helping those Turks who are against the West and its values. We are also sending a signal to countries in the middle east that the West is anti-Muslim.

Turkey’s geopolitical importance has grown as it has become stronger and more stable while the surrounding region has regressed. Turkey is a bridge between Europe and Asia, a model for the coexistance of Islam and democracy, and a key player in Iraq’s future. Yet at this critical time, the United States and Europe are pushing Turkey away from the West. Anger at America and Europe is growing daily because of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Europe’s reluctance to grant Turkey EU membership.

The Tocqueville Connection
The Journal of Turkish Weekly
Spero News 
International Herald Tribune

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