Accession negotiations with turkey begin

At the last minute, after a less than edifying haggling with austria, the eu does start accession negotiations with turkey, but opposition to accession is growing in turkey as well

Despite the start of negotiations, the last word on turkey’s accession to the eu has not yet been spoken either in brussels or in ankara the poker game was played until the last minute. At 17 o’clock on 3.Negotiations on eu accession between turkey and the eu commission are to begin in october. However, the date had to be postponed because austria continued to express reservations.

The viennese right-wing conservative government wanted to set as a goal of the negotiations an "privileged partnership" . In this, it is in agreement with the german union parties as well as with large parts of the french conservatives and many eu burghers. But the particular hard-nosedness of the alpine republic surely had domestic political reasons as well. Styria held regional elections on sunday. The alliance of christian socialists and right-wing conservatives has tried in vain to win votes by invoking occidental values and historical myths, such as the turkish troops stopped outside vienna. It was therefore not surprising that austria agreed to a compromise only late in the afternoon, when the elections in styria were drawing to a close.

Admission negotiations with turkey begin

British auben minister jack straw ("we have just made history") and his turkish counterpart abdullah gul ("turning point in relations") before the start of the agreed negotiations. Photo: council of the european union

But austria’s obstinacy was not entirely without results. Croatia, a close partner, will now be able to negotiate its accession to the eu after all. In addition, under prere from austria, it was decided that the eu’s absorption capacity would be limited. This is a setback for ukraine and other eastern european states that still have hopes of joining the eu. Even the accession of turkey is now made dependent on the eu’s ability to absorb turkey. This pas, which can be interpreted in many ways, also shows that turkey is far from being in the eu, even if this impression is sometimes deliberately created. What is starting now is only a marathon of talks with an uncertain outcome, which can be interrupted or broken off at any time. Even staunch supporters of eu membership, such as former federal minister fischer, said that approx. 15 years.

Eu critics in turkey on the rise

The internal turkish debate on the eu is only distorted in the local media. The idea that the vast majority of the turkish population wants to join the eu quickly, and that only a few islamists and incorrigible nationalists oppose it, reflects the opinion of western-oriented intellectuals and businessmen in turkey.

But these are only the preferred interlocutors of most correspondents of major newspapers in istanbul. Intellectuals in particular hope that only eu membership can guarantee democracy in the long term. This is also the position of many left-wing organizations such as the odp party, which is comparable to the grunen, or human rights organizations such as the ihd. The latter is critical of turkey’s accession to the eu, but does not fundamentally oppose the accession process, because it is seen as an opportunity for democratic change. A similar position is also held by most kurdish organizations in turkey. The kurdish mayor of diyarbakir, osman baydemir, buried eu enlargement commissioner gunter verheugen during his visit in september 2004 with the words: "dear mr. Verheugen, welcome to the wider europe."

In contrast, the human rights organization hoc, tayad and the "the "foundation for fundamental rights and freedoms" rejects eu membership. Although the bloody torture may have been reduced, new forms of oppression have emerged, said one hoc representative. It refers to the introduction of solitary confinement in turkish prisons, which was explicitly carried out with reference to eu standards.

Losers of eu accession

Economic reasons also play a role in the rejection of the eu by parts of the population. Especially small farmers and tradesmen fear. To be among the losers of eu accession. The viennese economist joachim becker also sees these groups as the losers of eu accession. The economist, who teaches at the vienna university of economics and business administration, points out the dangers for turkey’s domestic political development. "These groups have hardly had their say on the ie of eu accession yet. The eu-skeptical positions could be taken up and instrumentalized by nationalist parties."

In fact, some right-wing and nationalist parties that disappeared from the turkish parliament after the last elections are gaining ground again since they have been mobilizing against turkey’s supposed subordination to the eu. Especially the right-wing nationalist mhpa could profit from this recently. In their campaign, these groups have their sights set above all on the current islamic-conservative turkish government, which has tied its fate closely to eu accession and thus appears ready to make ever more concessions to brussels.

The majority of eu-skeptics are kemalists, who are avowed supporters of cooperation with the west and advocate a sacular republic, but just as intensively defend the sovereignty of turkey. They prefer close cooperation with the usa and a privileged partnership with the eu, but no accession. It is not unlikely that after the next elections in turkey, supporters of such a position will be more strongly articulated in the parliament and government. Already therefore the last word over an eu entry is spoken neither in brussels nor ankara.

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