WHY IS EUROPE SHUTTING DOOR ON TURKEY?

Author: Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky

(By Viktor Nadein-Rayevsky, senior research fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of World Economics and International Relations. RBC Daily, Nov. 9, 2016, p. 5. Complete text:) The wave of enthusiasm in Turkish society about joining the European Union has been replaced by disappointment after peaking in 2005. For its part, Europe, which is experiencing a surge of anti-immigration sentiment, is leaning toward suspending [accession] negotiations with Turkey.

A recent demarche by the European Parliament against continuing negotiations on Turkey’s EU accession seriously offended [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and his team. European Parliament deputies expressed their discontent with the Turkish leadership’s "inappropriate" response to an attempted coup [see Current Digest, Vol. 68, No. 29, p. 3 - 8], including mass arrests of both military personnel and civilians, and persecution of opposition media. However, the European Parliament deputies’ declaration aside, relations with [Turkey’s EU] partners have been far from rosy.

Readers are reminded that the Turks have sought to become part of the European project for over 50 years. Way back in 1963, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the EU, recognizing the country’s right to join that organization.

Turkey got a chance to do so in 1978 - 1979, when it was invited to join the EEC together with Greece, with which it has had openly hostile relations since the Turkish Army occupied Northern Cyprus. The Turks refused to compromise back then.

The 1980 military coup and ensuing mass arrests on both the left and right affected the association process. The EEC suspended negotiations, which did not resume until after 1983, and without much success. You can understand [the trepidation of] the Europeans: A country with a rapidly growing population, deficient agriculture and an inefficient economy did not inspire enthusiasm, and the EU even refused to accept Turkey as an EU candidate member ...

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