Destinations Magazine

Turkey and the European Union: A Tiny Thaw?

By Stizzard

AFTER 30 months in the deep freeze Turkey’s bid to join the European Union is for once warming a bit. France, which under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency blocked five of the 35 chapters that must be completed, has lifted its veto on one to do with regional aid. In Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades has a big lead in the presidential election (see article). He backed a 2004 UN plan to reunify the island that was accepted by Turkish-Cypriots but rejected by Greek-Cypriots. He could give Cyprus’s settlement talks a new push that might lead to its dropping some of its own vetoes on new chapters. Queasiness over letting in a big, powerful and prickly Muslim country aside, the EU’s biggest gripe with Turkey is its refusal to open ports to Greek-Cypriot vessels.“No force can tear us away from Europe,” said Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, at a recent conference. Yet Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has talked of joining the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation with Russia, China, and Central Asia (he later recanted). Such frustration is understandable: popular Turkish support for EU membership has fallen from over 70% when talks began in 2005 to as low as 33%. Nothing grates more than the various forms of watered-down membership…

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