Obama’s plea to EU on Turkey carries risks

April 6, 2009

Paul Taylor Great Debate— Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own —

Basking in adulation across Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama chose to expend some of his political capital to urge the European Union to open its doors to Turkey.

This public reaffirmation of long-standing U.S. policy fits in with Obama’s attempt to restore the United States’ standing in the Muslim world, using Turkey as a platform for his first state visit to a Muslim country. It also helps rebuild strategic ties with Ankara that sank to a low ebb under George W. Bush, when Turkey refused to allow U.S. forces to use its territory and airspace to invade Iraq.

And it contributed to convincing Turkish leaders at the weekend to drop their opposition to appointing the Danish prime minister as the new head of NATO.

But it risks raising unrealistic expectations that may cause deeper disenchantment between Turks and Europeans if the EU accession negotiations remain in a slow lane to nowhere.

Obama’s call drew an instant brush-off from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Sarkozy said it was up to EU members to decide who joins and that “the immense majority” of EU states opposed full Turkish membership. Merkel said there were obviously “differences of opinion.”


Although EU countries agreed unanimously in 2004 to start talks with Ankara with the goal of membership, some have since had second thoughts, due to hostile public opinion. France and Austria have made eventual accession subject to a referendum in their countries, raising the bar.

The talks have been hobbled by the Cyprus dispute, which led to the freezing of 8 of the 35 negotiating chapters, and by Sarkozy’s refusal to permit negotiation on policy areas that assume Turkish membership, putting another 5 off limits.

The main reason Obama cited for the EU to embrace Turkey — building ties with Muslims — is not the strongest selling point in Europe. Turkey’s qualifications include being a secular, democratic state with a vibrant market economy, a longstanding member of NATO and the Council of Europe and a strategically positioned energy hub.

His argument that Turkey has to be anchored firmly in Europe implies that it might otherwise drift off into Middle Eastern violence and religious intolerance, hardly a mark of confidence.

Turkey deserves EU membership if it meets the same criteria as all other candidates. These involve freedom of expression and the rule of law, as well as the capacity to adopt and implement more than 80,000 pages of European laws and regulations.

They require fundamental changes in the state established by Kemal Ataturk in 1923 that face resistance from nationalist elites in the army, the judiciary and the bureaucracy.

But Obama is right to warn Europeans they would do lasting harm if they are perceived to discriminate against Turkey because it is a Muslim country.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Mmmmm…I can understand the strategic position of Turkey, the convinience of being in between two worlds…I think that is their exact position. It is not natural for them to join EU. So much controversy and conflict. They inner sentiment and roots are more Muslim than Western, that is a inner sentiment of all the sides of its Democratic government organization, population and way of living so deep that is not going to change because is included in EU. I think their are not prepare, for that inclusion.
Worse it is a posibility to be a future constant conflict in between the members of EU with Turkey. Like CHINA , RUSSIA always braking the UN sancionts and NOT UNION ….and the result impunity .
The last example of Turkey role in EU as a future member is their inmediate link of actions ro RELIGION matters. Was the complain they did about the election of the future Danish NATO commander….the RELIGION MATTER ALWAYS IS GOING TO BE THERE and if is not follow by the other countries belonging to EU then comes the risk to eternal conflict. Instead of United position and protection.
I think Turkey must stay in their position in between 2 worlds and if is true what they said that are supporting PEACE, to support that in between the Western and Muslin world.
Other think to concern, for me, is their ambiguos position with HAMAS AND SYRIA…It is not enough clear their position as a country. Looks like Turkey can do very well being moderate supporting COEXISTANCE . If they show to the world that are example of COEXISTANCE and PEACE will be a good image for them to trust an respect them more.
I think it is in Turkey hands to show in future years that their strategic geo-political and cultural position is a constant variable, a benefit to the global partenership growth and as a partner that support dialogue with no conditions of any kind.
Maybe their role in this global partenrship is not to belong to one world or another , is to be facilitators of global understanding.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

Regardless of religion, Turkey has a number of serious home issues it needs to put in order before it can become a member of the EU. There are debates around freedom of speech (or lack of), the so called “honour killings”, the problems they have with the Kurds and with other muslim countries around them plus all the fiscal challenges they face..but most importantly the ongoing dispute over Cyprus. How can the EU accept a country which has violated international law through the invasion of Northern Cyprus and continues to this day to support a pseudo state in the Northern part of Cyprus! A state which is not recognised by any other government or contry in the world including the EU. If Turkey wants to join they need to be more proactive and look into why there is little support for them from both sides of the Bosphorus, from Europe and from their “muslim brothers” in the Middle East. Turkey has a few identity issues – the muslim states consider them more european than muslim, the Europeans consider them very much a muslim state. Strategic location, links with the muslim world etc…. may be good enough reasons for Obama but not enough for us wiser Europeans!

Posted by Aggelos | Report as abusive

The position of turkey as a counry sitting between two worlds is proportionally similar in many ways to the position of the UK, sitting between the US and Europe.
It is a difficult conflict of loyalties to face.
For example, many laws that Turkey would have to embrace may go against the aspiration expressed by a majority of its people for a more “muslim” driven system of values and justice.
The unease felt recently in the UK about lesser matters shows the dificulties that lie ahead.
The US can only reap benefits from the entry of Turkey in the EU.
Any cost or adverse consequence is for us Europeans.
Mr Obama sits in comfortable situation on the subject, but it would be wise of him to understand the reasonable concerns and reservations many have this side of the Atlantic.
Reaching out to the muslim world is a noble thing, but is not a simple one.

Posted by Kerwood | Report as abusive

I have recently read William Dalrymple’s book “From the Holy Mountain”
Western christian civilization has been a changing landscape for thousands of years.
We are not innocent bystanders in respect of religious wars.
The wars/conflic/insurgencies of Iraq and Afghanistan have a religious dimension however much one emphasize the dimension of terrorism.
European nations are multi cultural, multi ethnic and multi religious entities any impetus to create a cocoon of Europe as if Islam exists far away and is not already part of Europe is as devastating mistake as the attribution economic decline in the 20’s by the national socialists of germany to the Jews.
Turkey would be a most valuable member nation for a 21 century Europe.

Posted by Richard Brinton | Report as abusive

Dear all,

As a Turkish citizen who had a western style education, learned western and eastern history as default, it is really annoying to hear still from many Europeans that whatever we do, whatever we change in our laws and lifestyles and behaviours we are not part of Europe. Why we are not part of the Europe? Only because of religion? You dont remember the wars within Europe because of religional differences? Now catholics, anglicans, orthodoxes and protestants which had so many bloody wars in the history, live together in peace and Islam does not have a chance at all? Most importantly, could someone please tell me what is the difference between Islam, Christianity and Judaism at all. They are all Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Assurian) stories… The only difference is that Islam didnt achieve yet fully revolutionize itself and enters the human life too much. But it is just a matter of time…

Posted by levent | Report as abusive

Let me explain to you the fundamentals of politics! The underlying concepts of countries like the US and the UK is nothing more than power. Turkey being a Muslim country has no baring…why?? with the introduction of Turkey into EU would allow UK and Turkey to align itself together and dominate EU policy (this being the US gaol); thus weakening the position of both France and Germany and controlling issues within the EU..Really its not that hard to comprehend!

But this has backfired, as the only two democratic countries in the world ; UK and US ignored the issue surrounding the illegal occupation of Cyprus which has been supported by these two governments for now 35years.

Turkey must first abide by the principles of European Law before the are allowed to proceed forward with these membership..but should only expect they receive part membership

Anyway the U.S suggest we should allow Turkey into Europe, can we return the compliment and recommend that Mexico becomes another state of the USA.

Don’t you just love the western interpretation of democracy!

Free Cyprus from illeagal occupation!

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

In reference to Levent’s post. I am a foreigner married to a Turk and I live in Istanbul. I agree to a certain extent with his sentiments. However I can only comment on the institutionalised racism with which I am faced every day because I am NOT Turkish. It is not because I am a particular type of foreigner from a particularly disliked foreign country (seems to be most countries except for mine actually). It is just that I am NOT Turkish. I have no rights to a work visa (I have to be a Turkish citizen to be able to work and have self respect and support myself and my family), I have no rights that a Turkish wife would have vis a vis property etc. Hell I cannot even get a mobile phone because I am not TURKISH although I live here legally and am married to a citizen. I am dependent on my husband for everything from a credit card to a mobile phone and that is just the non important stuff.
The government has an official statement of when we join the European Union we will change these laws. What about now Turkey – what about our fundamental human rights to earn a living and house ourselves and have some dignity?

What infuriates me is that most people here actually think that it is acceptable including some of my Turkish family who coincidentally live in the United States and think that it is their right and not privilege to have work rights and property rights in the United States but you ask one of them if they would fight for the US army and the answer is no way not because they are against war but because they would just never fight for what the US stands for (not that one could blame them these days).

There is also overwhelming opposition and jealousy towards anyone who can offer something in terms of skills that they don’t have themselves particularly in the workplace. Because we are not protected by Turkish laws if we work, no matter how qualified we are, we are exploited and our terms and conditions are changed at the whim of the bosses. The gap between the bosses earnings and the employees here in Turkey, in my profession at least is around 50 times. I have never witnessed that in my professional setting in my life. And I am a highly educated professional. They lied to get me here but because I am not actually allowed to work here they can do what they like without a care in the world (which they do).
Turkey is not European and never will be. Its society does not have moral values based on doing good for your fellow human being. The morals are shame based and face based and if someone is in a position that makes you ashamed then it is cultural to help them. It does not come naturally believe me. However I am being unfair to individuals such as Levent but as a society this is the way it operates and most fair minded Turks would agree with me.
Since Erdogan’s power seemed to drop in the last local elections he has been gratifyingly quiet but I can assure you in the lead up to it, the religious rhetoric and the attacks on secular people and science and media and property rights of people who dont vote for them and anything else you can name was downright scary and dictatorlike. This is not a country, nor a political system that sits comfortably with Europe. Turkey must change and it is changing but only the facade but I am not sure that Turks fully have it within themselves change their value system which they need to to be part of Europe. They are more interested in material possessions not human beings and the rights of all.

Posted by Observer | Report as abusive

I’m Cypriot and half of Cyprus has been under Turkish occupation since 1974 (in a brief invasion where countless war crimes were perpetrated by Turkish troops against mainly Greekcypriot civilians, never to be punished due to the Cold War and Turkey’s status as a “vital” ally). Despite this, Cyprus has not vetoed Turkey’s route to the EU because we want Turkey to become a normal European nation, with respect for human rights and its neighbours. But Cyprus has blocked certain chapters relating to human rights, and neighbourly relations (eg the right of Cyprus planes and vessels to use Turkish ports and airports). What Turkey fails to understand is that this is not a religious matter (ie people do not dislike Turkey because if the religion – look at how Europe feels about Kosovo and muslim Albanians and Bosnians) but of human rights as Europeans understand them – if Turkey did not oppress minorities like Kurds, discriminate against non-muslim religions, recognised the Armenian genocide (so much historical evidence that Turkey prefers to ignore), and removed its occupying armies from Cyprus, then Europeans would look at Turkey differently. But Turkey uses religion as an excuse to avoid making the hard choices ie becoming a truly European nation.

Posted by Paris | Report as abusive

In this age of terrorism – where the perpertrators are (rightly or wrongly) linked to one religion – Islam, it is impossible for the leaders of any of the EU member countries to approve membership of a muslim state, as this would contravene the wishes of a majority of their constituents – who believe what they want to believe and are not involved in, or care about highly intellectual discussions and strategies. We have to await the resolution of problems in the middle east (e.g. Palestine and Isreal) before we can expect a change in relations between the Muslim and de-facto Christian worlds. This will likely take some considerable time!

Posted by M | Report as abusive

Being member of Nato and EU has to be a different story at least for Europeans. From USA point of view, less cohesion in EU is a good for many reasons – so put Turkey in EU. Why president of USA has to deal with EU issues? It is obvious that USA need Turkey to be nearer to Russia and Middle East but aside GB other European members do not have any special need to mix with Turks. Ask any Greek, or German about this great idea.

Posted by Dusan | Report as abusive

well, if turkey is part of europe, why not the maghreb as well? or lbia? and if then egypt, why not sudan? and what about azerbajian? where will it stop, if we let the americans decide, what’s european? why don’t we support the accession of mexico to the united states? it’s a vital ally for controlling america’s backyard, a safe conduit for drugs to the states, the common history consist mostly of friendly wars and interferences; but beware: if the americans refuse them entry, they might become so depressed that they become a failed state. and best of all: once inside they may pave the way for all the other latinos and help solve the problem of illegal immigration. and accession might also dissolve once and for all the perception that americans don’t like latinos.

Posted by urban | Report as abusive

The French and German reasons for not wanting Turkey as a member of the EU are based on barely concealed racism. To all intents and purposes they must excluded from the debate.

The fact is, however, that there is a huge question mark over whether Turkey is a “European” country that should be joining the “European” Union. I put the word European in quotation marks because the naked ambition of the current Commission is to annex various other countries that many would be shocked to hear even imagined as “European”: Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria – they’re all around the Med aren’t they -let’s pack ’em in to join the gravy train.

If nothing else comes of this rather disreputable episode in the sorry history of the EU as it is now configured, I hope it will be the realisation that it is a busted flush.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

Having spent a bit of time working in Europe & observing the attitudes for most people there, I am pretty sure Turkey is not part of the EU due to religious intolerance. Then again, why would she want to jump thru hoops to join a bankrupt “club” that is making all sorts of demands on her constitution and way of life. I would advise her to rather seek kinship further east … perhaps China and Russia.

Posted by Texas | Report as abusive

I think Obama should stay out of telling who enters the European Union or not. That is a matter for the member states to decide. They’re the ones sharing their borders with Turkey, not the USA.
There are many precedents of north-american meddling in the affairs of other sovereign countries and they’re mostly a disaster. To say Obamas “recommendation” contributed to Turkey dropping its opposition to a NATO danish president nomination is pure speculation and it’s amusing how Taylor talks about furthering disenchantment between Europeans and Turks when it’s a fact the relations have never been enchanted. They’re practical.

What the USA should do is mind its own relations with bordering countries such as Cuba, who needs to have sanctions lifted. That would be a positive economic step for both the United States and Cuba. The historical and social ties would make for a strong economic union of its own – Cuba is an archipelago and has, according to the CIA, 12 nautical miles of territorial sea, 24 of contigual zone, and an exclusive economic zone of 200 nm and it’s right by the entrance to the Gulf and there is a strong thriving cuban community in the USA. Remember that everytime there is a hurricane in the Gulf, Cuba gets slammed the worst. It’s a resilient country in the face of continuous adversity of any kind and that is why it’s a good reason to get to the american side. The old men running the country will die soon anyway.

Turkey’s NATO longstanding position isn’t about to change anytime soon. It’s a stable country so far, so why mess with what is doing just fine? The challenges Turkey faces from religious extremists derive in no small part to the blunder of american support for israeli illegal occupations, its nuclear facilities and disregard for the sovereign borders of its neighbours. Though the highly advertised spat at the Davos convention between the turkish prime-minister Erdogan and the israeli president Netanyahu was most likely derived from election season in the two countries, it does provide a good idea of what I’m talking about.

Posted by MicroDan | Report as abusive

WELL,Obama start to talk a little too much.He seems to talk about things he knows very little about it.Before to try to put Turkey in europe,serious political and diplomatic negotiations have to produce answers to all european partners.So far that is not the case!And at the moment of time (recession) that is not welcome.Obama talk and talk to please everybody at anyprice.Can he deliver?

Posted by DIDIER JAMBERT | Report as abusive

As we wake up to the reality of Muslim Fundamentalism… we’re learning one lesson fast in Afghanistan and Iraq. You cannot defeat this thing by killing fundamentalists alone. It needs Enlightenment. But where should this Enlightenment come from? From Europe and the USA? The Infidel? Not likely, is it?

But with Turkey, we have an opportunity – we already share a military bond with them via NATO (and oddly enough, everybody seems to find *that* arrangement acceptable). We know that they are a modern, thriving society. And we know that it will not take much to integrate… it will certainly cost less than the integration of some of our Eastern-European brethren.

So there are issues (as if all the nations of the EU live in harmony). So, lets talk to them, set realistic objectives and timelines, get it resolved and get them in the fold.

We need to warm to another reality… Turkey will move in one direction or the other within the next decade. Should this direction be towards Fundamentalism, there is a technical term that could be used to describe the strategic situation the EU will be in – but it should not be used in polite conversation.

But if Turkey integrates with the EU, that could offer a springboard to broadcast a message of religious and cultural tolerance to the Fundamentalists. Every bit helps, and if that could spare the blood of one European son, it will be worth the try.

Posted by Quintin | Report as abusive

I am a Turkish citizen and I can say that we are not ready to EU membership with our constitution already in use. In fact not just for EU reasons but we must change it for humanistic reasons, for ourselves. It must give more importance to human rights. But it is hard to offer to change it because of the regimes bureaucratic structure. There is a group here in Turkey that is afraid of Islam and they believe that if you give more freedom to people, Muslims will start putting pressure on their lifestyle ( you can say that most of Turks are Muslims but it is just like the Catolics and Protestants, or maybe a bit complex structure here ) . Anyway I hope we will change the constitution within a decade. And after we change it EU will not be important for us. Here people who are supporters of EU membership are supporters because they need help to change the constitution. They need a reason against the Kemalist bureaucracy. EU membership gives them a good reason for change. If we can achieve to change it with a more humanistic one, you will see the support of EU membership will fall sharply in Turkey. We are not a country like those in the East of Europe who needs help of EU for a lot of reasons.
Also it is understandable that some Europeans don’t like us. We have a Ottoman history ruling a big part of Europe for years. That is not forgetten yet I think.
Problems with Cyprus and Armenians is another issue not related with EU membership. We offer Armenians to form a group including historians for an investigation of the incidents in 1915 but they don’t accept. If they are sure of themselves why don’t they accept. We are a guarantor country in Cyprus and it is legal by international law. Why did the South Cyprus people refused the Annan plan ? They had to read history much better and must see what happened in 1974.

As a summary we are not eligible for EU membership right now. If EU accepts us to membership that will be a shame for them but when we will be ready we won’t be willing to join.

Posted by Mehmet | Report as abusive

Mr. Obama is definitely turning out to be one of the hardest working presidents in U.S. history. The guy is everywhere trying to get people to do stuff. Who would of thought this is what it’s like to have a young, well-educated and well-spoken world leader. What a total change.

Well, it would be hard to elevate the U.S. on the world stage without having a strong relationship with Turkey. The country is not just an ally but also one of the most accessible Mulsim partners in the world. We have pushed a lot of nations into the fringe – including friends. So we have to repair the damage. Increasing the bond between Turkey and the EU is good for Turkey and world stability. Don’t treat friends like enemies. That sounds dumb, but the previous president didn’t quite figure that out.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Why the Western and Turkish population have to be put in antagonism position, forcing them to accept each other when it is not the right time. If there is a time some day.
The effort of the President Obama is a voice for dialogue not controversy. It is a good time to elevate interchange of opinion and what it is best for the protection of the populations involved but without imposing.

It is not right to feed division, maybe now is not a good idea to push an inclusion that is not giving prospects of release to EU and Turkey.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

Turkey has a most agriegous human rights record. This is further exacerbated by its current law of prosecuting and jailing those who “insult Turkishness” – this being the case for speaking against the government, speaking against the state endorsed opinion of the Armenian genocide, and various other social and political taboos. Perhaps the most substantial, if not recent, example of this is the murder of a well-known journalist (Dink) in Turkey, who was fatally shot outside his editorial office in January of ’07 because he wrote an opposing view against the Armenian genocide. This is but one example of the Turkish state’s opposition to the basic human right, as outline by the United Nations, to that of freedom of thought and freedom of speech.
In a modern age where Germany is recognised for its immense contribution to opening up discussion and compensation for its dark past and France’s allowing of large numbers of muslims into its country, it is clear that ‘racism’ as proposed by a minority is a baseless argument. The issue of Cyprus is also another matter which does not aid in the Turkish entry into the EU.
When these basic factors are corrected, then it would only be wise for the EU to accept Turkey as a member nation.

Posted by Gregory | Report as abusive

Turkey has a long way to go to become a EU member. Oddly, while Ataturk was alive, Turkey was much more European than today. How could Turks aspire to be a part of Europe when their prime minister and president parade their wifes in headscarves, AND encourage the rest of the Turkish women to follow suit? If anything, since AKP came to power, Turks have been rowing backwards.
On the other hand, when Germans speak of Turks not being civilised enough, they must be forgetting the deeds of a genyleman called Adolf Hitler. So,Germans are in no position to lecture the Turks on being civilised.

Posted by cicero | Report as abusive

There are pros and cons on almost everything. Everybody talks about why Turkey should not be part of EU. But no one really talks about why Turkey should be part of EU. many ordinary people like myself look at this issue with one sided perspective which is “Religion” But many of you are not focusing on other important reasons why Turkey should be part of EU. Obama and some politicians analyzing this issue by listing all pros and cons together. At the end many people don’t even notice that EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs EU. Simply due to economics, population, workforce, market, natural resources, geographic position, many more…. and many of you look at this issue short term. In the long run EU will gain much more with Turkey than without Turkey. It is just simple math. In my opinion, people should focus on future peace, not previous hate and discrimination.

Posted by Farah | Report as abusive

I guess from the same reasons most of our friends mention, Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia-Hercegovina are not part of Europe while all their neighbours are part of “Europe”. And Russia is just a gas-petroleum dealer for Europe, and they should shut up and dont tell their opinions when time comes. China also should serve Europe-West as a cheap factory base and should not say their word in world affairs… In Cyprus Greek guerillas did not slaughter ethnic Turkish citizens, maybe they committed suicide just to make a reason for Turkey to occupy? (And not only once, twice 1960s-1974) Armenians were totally naive, they did not slaughter whole villages and cities in the eastern Anatolia before 1915… The biased thinking leads you such conclusions. You may also forget soon that Serbian war criminals killed 8000 innocents in Hodjali in one day, while “European” Peacekeepers (!) watched the case…

I think Europe should change its snobbish attitude towards the rest of the world. Thats the reason why now US is superpower, thats why Obama and Americans see themselves in power to advice you what to do since 1945, because they can ” change ” and enjoy efficient, multi-ethnic, multi-religion human resources and are not bounded in the details of history. At the same time, racism is in high levels even between EU citizens.

Thats all I would say, of course Turkey should change for the good of its citizens and we as citizens will do our best for it. I would also add that we are not worse than new members of EU in that process. In the end we will see what happens. The rest is politics which is very much biased in Europe including TR…

Posted by levent | Report as abusive

The European Friends, I understand you feel free to comment on what the USA does and doesn’t all the time, but the expressing any idea on EU politics is off-limits when it comes to the USA. Perhaps the USA should not have saved France from German occupation in the second world war, noticing that this is a intra-European matter as well.Or perhaps the French would have shown more resistance to occupantion that time than they do now towards the USA and Turkey.

As a Turkish citizen, I would myself vote “no” in a referandum today to becoming a full EU members. Turkey should comntinue strenghtening ties wtih the USA, Turks should continue work hard, attrack local and foregn ivestments and continue reaching the growth rates that EU can’t even see in her wildest dreams. Aging Europe with constant use of its compettiveness and attractiveness would only be burden in Turkey’s future. when the time comes EU will want to join “Turkey” perhaps.

I urge the Turkish politicians to drop the membership application and/or Sarkozy/Merkel and some others to end the hypocrical approach ans should simply put a full stop to negotiations, by stopping intented delays.

One little reminder to my Greek and Cypriot frinds, tell me who made the military cup in the united Island of Cyprus in 1974 and killed hundreds of innnocent Turks there mostly children and women, against which Turkish troops wnet to the island. SECONDLY, WHO VOTED NO IN 2004 REFERANDUM IN CYPRUS, THAT WOULD UNIFY ISLAND AND END THE “SO CALLED INVASION”. I would be pleased if some one answers those questions.

Posted by NO-TO-EU | Report as abusive

I think the broader issue at stake here is the modernization of countries that are still stuck with antiquated human rights practices. Obama’s goal is not to “westernize” Turkey or change the fundamental culture of the country. He is simply looking to improve the lives of people that are persecuted every day for race or religious beliefs. The European Union may be the wrong vehicle for that change in this case; Turkey is definitely not your typical European nation, but it is the best option available in this case. This is about human rights, not politics, and the EU is the most sensible opportunity for the necessary changes to be implemented in Turkey.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

Nasty article and nasty comments…

Posted by fedez | Report as abusive

You want to know why France wants to make Turkish inclusion subject to a referendum ? Because immigration has proven to be a CATASTROPHE for that country ! The integration of other cultures is a noble thought, but it DON’T work ! Canada is another prime example of how a society can unravel when immigrants insist upon living in their adoptive country as if they had never left their home country. No one in Canada identifies any longer with being CANADIAN (with the possible exception of a few players on a hockey team). Everyone is either Ukrainian, Honduran, Haitian, Italian, Jewish, etc. The Americans had great foresight when they created the notion of the ‘Melting-pot’. If fact, no other system seems to work.

Posted by Sanat | Report as abusive

Yes, Farah….but what will be the price!???????????
EU dependence from Turkey , very unbalance….good try.
It is focusing in future PEACE that thee ie all about.
These is a partenrship matter, protetection of population, HUMAN BEING LIFES-Populations involved, that depend on, not politics, or hate, or economics, or convinience for one side or another or simply blog chat.

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

This issue is for Europeans and not for Americans to deal with. If we take in Turkey, why not Morocco or Egypt? and Tunisia and Libya… or, instead, make Turkey America’s 51 state if Obama likes them so much…

Posted by Ignacio Peralta | Report as abusive

Our problem here in the U.S. is that most Americans would not be able to locate Turkey on a map, let alone grasp the outlines of the situation. We have the same problem with Pakistan.

It appears that our knowledge of the world grows mostly after having had a war in a region. A certain number of people (few) end up having insights into a region or a people, but this knowledge is neglected and ends up vanishing in a short time.

It seems to me that our nation should be engaging Turkey on many levels, but we do not have the competence yet to be making pronouncements. I was pleased to hear President Obama emphasize that he was there (in Europe and the Middle East) to listen, but isn’t it astonishing that some people attacked him even for that?

I am even getting tired of listening to myself say “Look at the record.” It’s the same story over and over again. We don’t learn and seem to have little desire to.

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive