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Let Turkey Into EU, Says British PM

  • July 28th, 2010
  • Posted by 7thmin

david-cameron-anunewsnet.jpgCOMMENTARY: The British Prime Minister, David Cameron (picture) has revived debate over Turkey’s chances of entering the European Union, saying it should be “allowed to sit inside the tent”.


It echoes long-standing British arguments for accommodating the large transcontinental state in a looser European community set up more on the lines of a customs union only.

Advocates of European integration favour a more pervasive state apparatus, with its single market, currency, justice systems and joint foreign policy, moving onward from the Lisbon Treaty arrangements that came into force at the start of last year.


Support for that structure among larger member countries is strongest in France and Germany, and in that context, decades-old arguments are being held onto:-

Turkey’s economy remains too weak for it to be carried within the EU, especially given the large, and expanding population (73.9-million) – in some views a “big Greece”.

The mostly Islamic country would carry political weight, e.g. in elections to the European Parliament, expecting nearly 15% of seats.

With 3% of its territory in Europe and 97% in Asia, it shares borders with three states in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq and Syria), and two EU members, Bulgaria and Greece – also Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

It has a history of enmity with Greece and Cyprus, with continuing resistance to its membership from those EU countries.

It has a recent history also of armed conflict within its borders, in the shape of full-scale military operations against Kurdish nationalist insurgents; a parlous state record on human rights, and serious disjuncture between its political community and general world opinion on the fate of the Armenian population in 1915.


Friends of the Turkish bid, nationalist on their own account, can put those objections aside if they are talking of a weaker European Union; other members would not not so bound to it and its problems  — less part of the one system, rather a more disconnected international partner.

Mr Cameron, speaking at a media conference with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referred to Turkey’s steadfast military support for Western interests in its region, as a member of the NATO alliance.

“When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan alongside our European allies, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been,” he said.

“It’s just wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent.”

Friendly opinion also stresses that Turkey has succeeded in being a secular democracy.

Less lukewarm about a unified Europe that the British government, but still friendly to Turkish aspirations for joining it, the Guardian newspaper in Britain (27.7.10) pointed to improvements in the country’s economic standing.

“It is not just that Turkey has a fast-growing economy or that it has a youthful workforce. It is because, with the failure or stagnation of so many key US and EU policies in the region, we could really do with the help”, it said in an editorial.

While accession talks for Turkey with the EU have been locked in, it would need to negotiate a difficult Treaty process to enter; in Britain that would mean a referendum, and exposure to public opinion less large-minded than the view of the government and supportive press.

  • For a balanced and informative treatment of recent tensions between Turkey and Europe, and the United States, from the International Crisis Group, see EUAustralia Online, “Turkey – Europe …”, 17.7.10.


Stephen Castle, “Cameron Backs Turkey Bid to Join EU”, NYT, 27.7.10., (28.7.10).

Clare Spencer, “Daily View: Tyrkey, Cameron and he EU”, BBC, London, 27.7.10., (28.7.10).