Politics: Religion: German cabinet negotiations greenlite Turkey into EU - with strict compliance to EU standards
Merkel joins in German call for Turkey's strict completion of EU requirements before membership: 'Main German parties reach agreement on Turkey's EU bid', Southeastern European Times (SETI), November 8, 2005.
Angela Merkel, leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the political party which gained the largest number of votes in the recent Federal elections in Deutschland, and thus the person most likely to replace the outgoing Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder of the Socioal Democrats, has shifted her earlier position on Turkey's membership in the EU. For religious-political reasons, I find this shift of great significance. The apparent underlaying concern of Merkel and many in the CDU (of which I am a critical supporter) was, in my opinion, the failure of the European Union to write a brief acknowledgement of God and the mention of Europe's historic legacy as a Christian civilization into its draft Constitution. This proposal was opposed by the secularist and atheist elites that dominate EU planning. In the referenda that ensued, both the French and the Netherlands voters turned down this Constitution which was, among other fawlts, unwilling to acknowledge Europe's Christian heritage. So the idea of an EU constitution itself is now in limbo. But, with such an acknowledgement, the European Union could neverthless conscientiously open its door to the officially secularist country of Turkey, which interestingly has hardly been touched by influences of the European Enlightenment - the heritage of Europe's secularists and atheists in competiton with the Christain heritage. It's the secular atheist Humanists who have generated the inner-European sitaution of a competition of heritages
Now, Turkey is n-o-t a secularism-dominated society like Europe; Turkey is nationalist and Islamic, but idiosyncratically ruled by an officially secular state. Nevertheless, of course, some of the Muslim citizens are, as one mite expect in any society, extreme in their expression of their religion. This "some" is a strong force in Turkey, and on the daily ground level, the state is constantly compromising with and holding the line against the pressure to advantage nationalist-Turkish Islamic privilege, pushed relentlessly by Islamicist organizations. In the past, various ethnic communities other than Turk have suffered greivously from this disadvantage that the state will not work to undo. Among the victimized communities are Greek-ethnic Jews and Christian Orthodox (who, in Istanbul, still maintain the honorary Ecumenical Patraitchate of worldwide Orthodoxy), Kurds (mostly Muslim, some of whom have supported their own nationalist-separatist terror organization), and Armenians (mostly Christians and perhaps some Jews, pardon my ignorance here - a community subjected to a full-scale genocide in the first half of the Nineteenth Century).
Back to Merkel: As mentioned, earlier before her party's becoming to the leading party and displacing the socialists at the polls, Merkel had expressed CDU ideas for welcoming Turkey to the EU but only with a special status. A major article by Allan Cove in the Southeast European Times (SETI), September 14, 2005, had the matter turning on Turkey's non-recognition of Cyprus, an important sticking point, to be sure.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the island's northern half. Ankara wants the longstanding issue to be resolved through a UN framework, while the Greek Cypriots -- who joined the EU on 1 May 2004, gaining veto power within the bloc -- have increasingly sought to make it an EU issue. The Greek side rejected a reunification plan sponsored by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in part because of expectations it could obtain a better deal.Subsequent to that and during the recent Federal campaign in Germany, Merkel kept before the voting public the CDU compromise proposal for a "privileged partnership" role for Turkey in relation to EU. This is not want what the Turkish government has wanted for 40 years. They want membership. During the campaign in Germany, Merkel fawlted her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder and his SDU, for undermining the partnership option.
Although Turkey's EU bid has been a top priority for the Erdogan administration, there are limits to the concessions it is prepared to make. The prime minister faces political pressure at home, with nationalists charging he has already given away too much. With some EU political figures -- such as Germany's Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel -- appearing to rule out full membership for Turkey, many in the country wonder whether the odds are too high.
EU begins screening process for Turkey, , according to SETI, October 20, 2005.But today comes new word on the issue in Germany and hence for the EU, on Turkey's elgibility for full EU membership.
ANKARA, Turkey -- "The screening process under the EU accession negotiations with Turkey begins in Brussels [on October 20] with discussions about the science and technology chapter [of the proposed EU/Turkey agreement]. Ankara has voiced plans to close at least one chapter in the talks by the end of this year.
"Meanwhile, Angela Merkel, the next German chancellor, criticised Gerhard Schroeder for telling Ankara recently that the privileged partnership proposal is no longer an option. According to international media reports, Merkel accused the outgoing chancellor of 'going too far' and signaled that she might support some form of partnership with Turkey that falls short of full EU membership. (FT - 20/10/05; NTV, World Bank Web site - 19/10/05)"
BERLIN, Germany -- "The leaders of the German Christian Democrats and Social Democrats have reached an agreement on the future cabinet's policy towards Turkish membership in the EU. Under the deal, Germany would make sure that Turkey meets all requirements before it is allowed to join the Union. The launch of talks is no guarantee that they will be completed successfully, the parties decided. In a move likely to please Ankara, the document to be signed by Germany's top political leaders will make no mention of a "privileged partnership" -- an alternative to full membership which German chancellor-designate Angela Merkel has advocated in the past.However, the stringency, the strictness of Turkey's compliance with EU standards should not only include a proper course regarding Cyprus, where the Greek Cypriot government is also playing politics to the detriment of Turkish Cyprus - thus, affecting the line-up of both the Greek government and the Turkish. I tend to favour re-unification with the rights of the Turkish minority of Cyprus being strictly guaranteed.
"Also ... it was announced [on November 7, 2005] that Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's President Rene van der Linden plans an official five-day visit to Turkey starting [yesterday]. The EU membership bid will dominate talks, though Cyprus will also be discussed. (AFX, AFP, Reuters, CoE - 07/11/05)"
But there are other issues in regard to Turkey's disastrous human rites record - which, I hasten to add, is not nearly as bad as that of other regimes in the region such as the former Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the Assad clan's Syria, however, had not pursued as direct and vicious a stance toward its Christian minorities as such; rather Turkey's historic record up to the present day, is much worse. Stay tuned. - Politicarp