Thursday, June 12, 2008

Turkey Trots Towards the EU

I’d like to draw your attention to a brand new blog called The Turko File, whose mission is “blogging Turkey’s road to membership in the European Union”.

Here are some snips from the top three posts. Concerning the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty:

Hot off the press: Greece, Estonia and Finland have just ratified the Treaty of Lisbon!

What does that mean? Why should anyone care?

It so happens that the Lisbon Treaty is the European Constitution Part II. If you will recall, the European Constitution went down in a ball of flames in 2004 when France and the Netherlands refused to ratify it. Bureaucrats in Brussels hope that by calling the Treaty a treaty, rather than a constitution, they will be able to avoid some of the nasty sentiment that bedeviled Attempt #1. So far so good.

The real test of the Treaty will be in Ireland. Ireland is the only country in Europe that mandates nationwide referendums on EU legislation such as this. Opinion polls show that the referendum is currently too close to call. France and Germany have promised a strong Franc-German response should Ireland veto the Treaty. Time may tell just what that means.

What relevance does the Treaty have for Turkey? A great deal. For one thing, the Treaty includes a clause about common defense. If Europe is able to amass a credible combined military force, Turkey will suddenly be of greater use to the EU. Turkey has a larger military — in terms of number of soldiers — than any country in Europe. If it joined NATO tomorrow, Turkey would have the fifth largest defense budget in the block.

On a more negative note, the Treaty introduces new language about accession and enlargement. The Treaty would require countries hope to accede to the EU to adhere to the block’s “values.” This could obviously bode badly for Turkey.

Concerning Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds:
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The London-based Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) has opened up a new case against Turkey in the European Court of Human Rights. KHRP claims that Turkish bombing in Northern Iraq has caused a large number of civilian deaths:

“We have been told that Turkish shelling and bombing caused civilian deaths and injuries, and damage to livelihood, farmland and property,” he said. “In Iraq I witnessed some of these atrocities and also saw that civilians have been traumatized [and] … displaced. The military operations have compromised the human rights of Iraqi civilians.”

This case is intended as a test. It will show much how far the ECHR is willing to go in prosecuting Turkey for its conduct in the fight against the PKK.

And some more on a topic that (as regular readers know all too well) makes smoke come out of my ears:

[President George W.] Bush once again made clear that he supports Turkey’s quest to join the European Union. He made his comments at the US-EU summit in Slovenia.

And, by the way, one subject we didn’t spend a lot of time on that I’d like to clarify the U.S. position on is, we strongly believe Turkey ought to be a member of the EU, and we appreciate Turkey’s record of democratic and free market reforms, and working to realize its EU aspirations.

There’s much more information available about Turkey at The Turko File.


Arius said...

Note that The Turko File is pro-Turkey and whitewashes Islam.

Henrik R Clausen said...

'Trotting' seems a bit of an exaggeration. 'Complete standstill' is more like it.

Except in the fantasy world of GWB, of course.

Baron Bodissey said...

Henrik --

I must (blush) confess to making a pun with my post title.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Cool :)

BTW, it's always good to look at both sides of any issue. When it comes to Turkey, getting into the details works wonders, for the simple reason that the facts on the ground tell that the EU-Turkey project is unfounded, illegitimate and should be abandoned. Facts about Kurds etc. are important - even the proponents have to deal with the facts on the ground.

I don't like that he talks so badly about Daniel Pipes, though.

Elliot_DK said...

Ehem.....just a minor correction.

Turkey IS a member of NATO and has been since 1952, second largest force btw.


Henrik R Clausen said...

Elliot, that's some mistake he makes :)

Turkey gained much praise for its willingness to bomb Serbs in the 1999 'campaign'. No surprise to those who know history before WWI, but most US 'presidential advisors' probably wouldn't have a clue about that...

Afonso Henriques said...

Exactley Henrik, exactly...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the comment pointing out my thoughtless error! I meant to say 5th largest defense budget in the EU, not NATO.