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Will France be obliged to carry Turkey to the EU ?

Tuesday 22 May 2007, by Beril Dedeoğlu

Source : TDZ, 12/05/2007

During electoral processes, sometimes a dichotomy can appear. When it becomes difficult to denominate the existing alignments, an external issue is discovered and electors are forced to take sides over this. On this, Turkey and France are very similar.

Every political party in France defends democracy, secularism, the people’s interests and a prosperous future; in other words, they are in favor of a European-style liberal democracy.

A very similar question

In Turkey, every political party defends the principles of Atatürk, and all of them are republican and secular. While everybody defends the same general framework of secular democracy, the differences become visible in the republican projects in France and in the use of national symbols in Turkey. These differences may also appear in the rhetoric about the future position to be adopted in the global balance of power. At this point, Turkey and France are asking themselves the same question : “What are we to do with the US, with the EU and with the EU-Turkey relationship?

The opposition in Turkey has sharpened its opposition towards these three elements and has adopted an anti-imperialist Third-World rhetoric. The general attitudes of “national pride” and speeches which proclaim that “we are self-sufficient” reflect the rejection of global powers and relations. Those who don’t think the same way are presented as collaborators of Turkey’s enemies and are labeled as those who support the taking over of the country.

In France, those who support Turkey’s membership in the EU are accused of not taking seriously Islam’s different nature and therefore endangering France’s cultural and economical stability. In both countries, political parties gather popular support through alienation. We should remember that in both countries, people adopting these attitudes call themselves “republicans.” But no one seems to remember that alienation only makes nations weaker.

We have heard of many projects lately which are efforts to reorganize global relations. Sarkozy’s “Mediterranean Union ” is one of these projects. After the European Parliament rejected the “privileged partnership” proposal, this is the new project presented to those French people who are frightened of seeing Turks coming to Europe.

Alternative projects

But there are many problems there. First of all, every political party in Turkey sees these proposals as unfair offers. The feeling of being pushed away from full membership creates many reactions. As this proposition is seen simply as the refusal of the membership, Turkey’s eventual consent on this is highly hypothetical. After all, Turkey’s membership will not happen before at least 2015. When actual conditions change, and they will definitely change, “national interests” and “popular perceptions” will have to be reconciled by actual politicians.

If France wants to be present again in the Mediterranean region and if it plans to do it through Turkey, it has to win Turkey. Above all, if France reinforces its ties with the US, it would be difficult to act in that region in contravention of the American and British Mediterranean policies. How will they push Turkey away in that case?

Meanwhile, Turkey cannot reach stability and development in an atmosphere of global unrest, so it cannot pursue a conflict-based policy with the West for long. As the EU will not be able to create a halfway solution for Turkey, the parties will either completely cut their ties or they will completely develop them.

Turkey asserts that its membership in the EU will be beneficial for the union, and it emphasizes terms such as power, security, new jobs, strategy and Mediterranean. The same terms are used by Sarkozy to oppose Turkey’s membership. But these are also very popular terms for the US policymakers. If this tendency continues, it can even forge a Turkish-French bloc. Turkey wouldn’t reject that, but how France can explain this to its other partners ?

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