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The EU expands
December 14, 2002 4:32 AM   Subscribe

The EU decides to expand and I am obviously looking forward to reading about and discussing this event when i log in on metafilter this morning, only to find that this story has not been posted. This is probably one of the most important changes in the European political landscape since the Wall came down more than ten yeas ago and I must say I am a little disappointed with you all that it was not linked and discussed last night. Shape up metafilter!
posted by FidelDonson (43 comments total)

 
Is this event really not as important as the media and participating politicians seem to think?
posted by FidelDonson at 4:34 AM on December 14, 2002


I must say I am a little disappointed with you all that it was not linked and discussed last night. Shape up metafilter!

My sentiments exactly, Fidel, and I was already trying to round up links to make a FPP about it. But since we're obviously both living in Copenhagen, it's not strange that we're both a bit excited about it. =)

The decision to expand the European Union from 15 to 25 member countries is historic - at least for the Europeans. The consequences for the European self-image is huge, because we're moving away from the Cold War-era East vs West thinking. That means Europe is going to be focused on dealing with it's own problems for a large while - and not with Europe's problems with other political regions (as the former East-bloc countries was).

The political problems of this expansion are huge: The European Union needs to construct a new and leaner decisionmaking process if the EU isn't going to become a text-book example of poltical inefficiency. And security-wise, the EU is including new members which security (against Russia) is presently guaranteed by the U.S. (and NATO) and not the EU, which means the U.S. is going to have a great deal more goodwill in future negotians with an expanded EU.

But these problems will hopefully pale in comparison to the economic advantages of the expansion. The economic development of the new member countries is going to result a much larger and stronger European marketplace making Europe a stronger economic power than it is today. This added competion to the U.S. and Asia is of course an advantage for everybody.
posted by cx at 4:57 AM on December 14, 2002


European expansion has been a foregone conclusion for many years now. It was just a question of hashing out the details. So the actual signing event, while very important for the joining countries and the bureaucrats who have worked to close the deal, is quite insignificant in the scope of history.

Most EU "events" have this kind of anticlimactic result, because the process to get anything concluded is so long, cautious, and incremental. The spectacularly boring changeover to the euro a year ago is another example.

So what is it about the long-term expansion process that you think is original, interesting, and discussion-worthy?

My answer would be that the really significant question is whether Turkey will be able to join, and what the consequences would be. The newly elected Islamists are in favor. So is the US. The Economist came out in favor on the cover recently (no link yet, as far as I can tell). Giscard, continuing his 30-year tradition of spouting idiocies, put his finger on the problem: it's about religion and culture.

Expanding into Eastern Europe just fulfills the Cold War destiny of the EU, stretching all the way back to the 1950s. Bringing in Turkey would be a real change in the landscape.
posted by fuzz at 5:03 AM on December 14, 2002


One of the reasons this was not posted before, Fidel, is probably because of the "anti-newsfilter sentiment"; the point of MetaFilter, after all, is primarily to "find the best and most interesting of the web to share with others", and not just be another community website where members discuss things that happen in the news. But that's just speculation on my part, of course.

Personally, though, I think the question of expansion is much less interesting than the question of what exactly the EU should be for those who choose to become members. In the beginning, the EU (then EEC) was mostly a free-trade area -- something I support, although I think having an overnational body to regulate it defeats the purpose -- but lately, it's transformed into an ever-expanding bureaucracy seemingly created for its own sake, with a countless number of laughable consequences (the split HQ between Strasbourg and Brussels being just one example).

If the EU is to be just another layer of red tape on top of the existing national ones, it's going to fail similarly to the Soviet Union. If it goes back to being a coordinated effort to repeal regulations and further the cause of liberty, however, it could be the greatest triumph of the Europeans since their best and brightest left and created the United States.
posted by dagny at 5:24 AM on December 14, 2002


I am Greek, so the Copenhagen summit was especially important to me (because of the possible Cyprus settlement and Turkey's entry), so I expected a MeFi FPP too, but didn't want to put my focus on it (the re-unification of Europe after WWII is a bigger milestone, I think).

As for Turkey: as a Greek, I am split. Rationally, a European Turkey would be a boon for Greece, as it would allow my country to spend less on defense (we'are #2 in the world in GDP-per capita spending on defense, after Israel) and it would most certainly settle the Cyprus issue. On the other hand, as a European, I am annoyed at the US pressure on the EU to admit Turkey (and again, as a Greek, I am pissed at the lack of exposure of the Cyprus issue in the US press, at least compared to the Turkish one).

For the US to come out and practically bully the Europeans to admit a country (any country, doesn't matter which one) to their would-be-federation, is tantamount to us pressuring the US to admit Canada as the 51st state (no Canuck jokes, please). It's a stupid move, and frankly ham-fisted. For that country to be Turkey, a country whose currency literally collapsed not two years ago (whereas other candidates have to adhere to the notorius Stability Pact to get the Euro) and whose population would be both the largest and poorest in the EU if admitted, is, well, very stupid. It would be tantamount to us pressuring the US to admit Argentina as the 51st state.

Bottom-line: I wish Turkey joins the EU, but that it does so on fair and equal grounds --its economy shaped up, its generals back in the barracks-- not on bullying by that lone cowboy, err... superpower.

BTW, I am almost a US citizen too...
posted by costas at 5:29 AM on December 14, 2002


Costas, I'm not sure if you are objecting to the idea that Turkey should join the EU, or to the idea that the US is telling the EU what it thinks Europe should do. Do you think that the US doesn't have the right to take a position on EU affairs?

The Europeans certainly have a very extensive catalog of ideas about what the US should do. The EU's "bullying" (to use your word) of the US covers both foreign policy and what Americans perceive as domestic issues such as capital punishment (which I oppose quite completely, but which I think the US has to sort out in a democratic way).

The EU clearly thinks that what the US does has ramifications for the rest of the world, and that gives the rest of the world the right to push hard on the US to behave a certain way. Why does this argument not apply to the EU as well?

As an American living in Europe for the last 13 years, and being very well integrated into European culture, I have become concerned in the last 6 months about what I perceive as a new kind of anti-Americanism in Europe. I don't want to derail the thread, but the reaction to the US's ideas about admitting Turkey seems to be about everything except the question about whether to admit Turkey.
posted by fuzz at 5:58 AM on December 14, 2002


Does admission of the new countries into the EU slow down any current consolidation and streamlining that's taking place (and I don't know how much is going on) in the EU countries already extant?

Also, looking at the map, it's interesting to note that the Balkans are remaining unaffected. I guess geographic contiguity isn't everything.
posted by alumshubby at 6:34 AM on December 14, 2002


FidelDonson, cx, fuzz, costas, and other European MeFiers:

Let me take this historic moment to say:

It's a beautiful say in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. Let's make the most of this beautiful day, since we're together we might as well say: Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?
posted by Ljubljana at 6:38 AM on December 14, 2002


(It's also a beautiful day for spellchecking, but oh well. I guess I got carried away in the heat of the moment.)
posted by Ljubljana at 6:46 AM on December 14, 2002


One of the things *I* find interesting in all this is that nobody outside of Europe seems to have taken note of Giscard's remarks on Turkey joining the EU, and nobody inside Europe seems to care in the first place.

Everybody on the planet seems to have wigged out about Trent Lott, and nobody pays a drop of attention to "The EU is only for Christians".
posted by aramaic at 7:09 AM on December 14, 2002


It's a beautiful say in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. Let's make the most of this beautiful day, since we're together we might as well say: Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?

I'd love to, Ljubljana. : )

But will Slovenia accept the invitation? Is the Slovenian population in favor of membership of the EU?

nobody outside of Europe seems to have taken note of Giscard's remarks on Turkey joining the EU, and nobody inside Europe seems to care in the first place

Giscard is just an old geezer.
Turkey is a secular state. The religion of it's inhabitants won't stand in the way of their membership anymore than being Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican or Orthodox has stood in the way of other countries' membership.
posted by cx at 7:16 AM on December 14, 2002


Aramaic: agreed, D'Estain's comments should have received more attention, especially since he's in charge of drafting the new EU constitution.

fuzz: I only object to the US pressure on the EU to admit Turkey. As a Greek, I am actually for Turkey's admittance (although I don't know I am in the majority among my countrymen). Yes, I don't think the US has a right to pressure EU countries on EU affairs. The EU is slowly but certainly becoming a federation-like organization, not unlike the early (pre Civil-war) US federal government.

Would say, Floridians like the Chairman of the European Commision telephoning their governor so that the State lobbies the Federal government over, I don't know duties on oranges?

Respect among allies must go both ways methinks...
posted by costas at 7:32 AM on December 14, 2002


turkey won’t be a member of the EU, at least in some time, and that is because is mainly muslim, as alumshubby said, it’s strange that the balcans are not included, and the balcans are also partly muslim. i think that ukraine and belarus could become EU members earlier than turkey.

costas, i didn’t know that greece spends so much in defense, why is that?
posted by trismegisto at 7:36 AM on December 14, 2002


trismegisto, I disagree.

To qualify for membership you have to have a liberal democracy, respect for the European human rights and a strong economy. Those things have nothing in themselves to do with religion.

Now if Turkey was a fundamentalist muslim state, they would have problems since their view of human rights would probably be different from the European (and Christian-influenced) human rights.

That is not the case, however! Turkey is a secular and modern nationstate. It's culture is different from the average European one, but it's hardly more different than Finnish culture is from Maltese.

The Balkan countries presently not in the EU are Croatia, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Rumania. Of these there is only a Muslim majority in Albania - which BTW have been repressed for most of the Cold War - and only in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a Muslim plurality. Religion is not the issue, IMO.

Claiming Belarus or Ukraine will join the European Union faster than Turkey is dubious. Ukraine and Belarus has huge problems with both their democracies, their human rights and their economies.
posted by cx at 8:12 AM on December 14, 2002


well, i have to say that religion is not the only the problem. i think is historical and cultural. the direct bond between turkey and europe fell with constantinople. turkey has not been a direct participant in europe’s history, it “ has seen europe history from the outside”. i think turkey became a member of nato just because of their strategic geography pointing towards middle east, and that’s all.

why would EU would’nt accept turkey as a member like it did with the other countries? as you said cx, To qualify for membership you have to have a liberal democracy, respect for the European human rights and a strong economy. and turkey surpasses those characteristics more than, just say, poland or slovakia. so what’s the problem about letting turkey in?
posted by trismegisto at 8:35 AM on December 14, 2002


But will Slovenia accept the invitation? Is the Slovenian population in favor of membership of the EU?

They are, although enthusiasm is slowly waning. A few months ago, it was suggested that Slovenia enter as a net contributor to the EU since per-capita income is (by some estimates) higher here than in Greece or Portugal. That ruffled a lot of feathers, since it seemed that Slovenia would be punished for actually making progress since 1991, while the countries who were in economic shambles (Slovakia, Poland) would pocket millions of euros in developmental aid. But it seems to have worked out, and I'm positive that the people will vote for membership.
posted by Ljubljana at 8:55 AM on December 14, 2002


trismegisto: the problem with letting Turkey into the EU relates to their history on human rights. As recently as 1999, the death penalty was still used in Turkey whilst capital punishment is contrary to European law.

Although Turkey has now scrapped the death penalty, the EU believes that they have some way to go until they achieve compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

At the recent European summit, Britain pushed to agree that Turkey's accession talks would start "without delay" in December 2004. I think they'll be joining-up pretty soon...
posted by Lleyam at 8:55 AM on December 14, 2002


cx: Turkey is not quite Finland; this has nothing to do with the Turkish culture or religion, mind you. The state of the country is not such that she would be admittable to the EU if not for strong US pressure. The currency is still recuperating from a collapse about two years ago (the exchange rate is still like a billion lira to a USD). Corruption is rampant (although the same can be said for Greece, Italy or Poland). Most importantly, the Turkish army still considers themselves the guardians of the secular state.

The Turkish Army basically overthrew a popularly elected Islamist government in 1997 (?) and they are keeping a close eye on this one (one big reason why the new Turkish government is very much pro-Europe). The leader of the party (Erdogan) that swept the vote was disqualified from becoming the PM because he read an "Islamic poem" at a political gathering some years ago. Ankara is not quite Helsinki, politically.

That having been said, I don't think Turkey doesn't belong in Europe or shouldn't join the EU. I wish they do join, but do so under their own strength, on the same criteria as Greece did, or as Slovenia is doing (not that there wasn't lobbying in these cases either).

What did annoy me is the way the Turkish bid was presented in the US press (and in The Economist as well, of which I am a subscriber). No word on Turkey's abysmal financial status. No word on the "special" relationship the National Security Council (i.e. the Generals) have with the elected government. No word on minority or human rights (which have been improved in theory, under a last-minute law passed by the previous, disgraced government, but which has not been implemented AFAIK).

Note that none of these things have to do with Turkey being Muslim or that it's mostly in the Middle East. They are just signs of a badly run state, which needs to shape up before it can be supported by the other 25 EU members (and yes, I am aware that my own country is the worst performer in the EU now; thank God for expansion! :-)
posted by costas at 8:57 AM on December 14, 2002


OK, let me state that I'm also Greek, also in favour of Turkey joining in the EU eventually, but not now. The reason is that Turkey is no more politically ready for joining the European Union than say, Morocco or Lebanon is (and Lebanon probably has a better human rights record than Turkey). Turkey all through the past two decades is involved in a most atrocious war against its own Kurdish population, a glimpse on the savagery of which can be found here, here (warning: shocking photos) and here.
Torture is routinely practiced (AI overview here) and the state is still in the habit of disappearing political dissidents. The list is very long.
Some steps in the right direction have been made recently, but as long as there are political prisoners there is still a very long way to go.
And that's not even to mention that it is a ruined economy, with a per capita GDP lower than Mexico.
When Turkey becomes a democracy I will be on the street demonstrating for its entry, right now it would be like letting Franco's Spain in... So you see the US's insistance about Turkey joining, it isn't simply bad form, it's insulting.
posted by talos at 9:21 AM on December 14, 2002


The US is pushing for negotiations to begin, not for immediate admission. The EU should agree in principle to Turkey's admission, and then open the undoubtedly long negotiations for how Turkey will fulfill the conditions for entry.

This might take many years, but by doing so the EU can put Turkey on the road to becoming a democracy, rather than push it towards an Islamist viewpoint. If you really want Turkey to change, that's the EU way: via inclusive process rather than force or exclusion.
posted by fuzz at 9:35 AM on December 14, 2002


The US is pushing for negotiations to begin, not for immediate admission. The EU should agree in principle to Turkey's admission, and then open the undoubtedly long negotiations for how Turkey will fulfill the conditions for entry.

But that has already happened, hasn't it? One of the Turkish arguments at the recent summit was that Turkey was complying with the European demands and had initiated a plan to reach the needed criteria both human rights-wise and economy-wise.

The response was, more or less, that in 2004 the results of these plans would be evaluated and that evaluation would decide whether or not Turkey was eligible to join the EU.
posted by cx at 9:52 AM on December 14, 2002


The EU should agree in principle to Turkey's admission, and then open the undoubtedly long negotiations for how Turkey will fulfill the conditions for entry.
This is what's happening now. Turkey is being given a long list of prerequisites that have to be met in order to meet the EU standards. On December 2004, if sufficient progress has been made, then the accession talks will begin. That's the way it should be. Turkey (and the US) wanted a definitive date for accession. That would hardly be an incentive for reform.
And what fuzz applies to Turkey can (should?) then apply to Syria/ Lebanon/ Morocco / Libya / Iraq. See how you like this proposition:
"If you really want Iraq to change, that's the EU way: via inclusive process rather than force or exclusion."

On preview, what cx said.
posted by talos at 9:56 AM on December 14, 2002


I am rather mixed on the expansion into the East. Having lived in Europe for quite some time now I don't see the recent expansion as being a good idea at the moment. Warning: this is a long commentary on immigration issues and thinly veiled about the EU structure in general.

The current EU structure is a layer of red-tape over an already hyper-thick red tape. Most individual citizens won't tell you that they are overly thrilled with the EU at the moment, and the idea that the current organization may *double* in size is not appealing itself very kindly to many.

To use Spain as an example (where I have been living), the fear of East European --> West immigration is massive. While the Northern countries worried 20 years ago that the Spaniards, Greeks, and Portugese were going to flood north when they were entered into the EU, these people did not do so. Of course, these are people who rarely venture outside of their own region (in the case of Spain) or locality to begin with, so the fear was generally baseless.

But Spain already has a massive influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe in the last 2-3 years, particularly in the relatively wealthy Eastern Coast (Barcelona south through Valencia). If you want an excellent case study in immigrant acceptance in the 21st Century, head to Valencia. Last spring saw 2 major Falange Party protests (the biggest since Franco died) and open hostilities toward immigrants for the first time that I've seen in an area that has always been very accepting. The welcome has warn out, but the flood continues.

The fear is that once Eastern Europe is opened up (particularly Romania, Bulgaria, etc.) these people *will* take the opportunity to flee. Several of my colleagues from that area have told me that it takes everything in their power, outside of overt coersion, to keep people within their countries.

The question really becomes this: can the EU 'sell' the idea of building up Eastern Europe quickly enough to avoid this massive influx of immigrants? And if the EU cannot do this, how bad would a potential backlash be? From my experience, I am not very optimistic if immigration is not controlled.

Example: Though I don't know if this was codified, I do know that Germany was working with Poland to find measures to keep this influx from occuring. Apparently the deal was: You keep your people in Poland, we keep our money from buying your property.
posted by tgrundke at 10:14 AM on December 14, 2002


And by the way, I do not think Turkey has a snowball's chance in hell of being permitted into the EU anytime in the next 15 years barring a sudden economic turbocharge in the current member states. And that upturn would simply make Turkey a less-bitter pill to swallow for many European.

I don't think they should *not* be permitted in, but I honestly do not see the economics, social, ethno-religious issues being cleared away for Turkey anytime soon. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by tgrundke at 10:18 AM on December 14, 2002


So the US can finally leave NATO, right?

(Not that the US has any intention of saving a few dollars on the military. That's crazy talk!)
posted by raaka at 10:23 AM on December 14, 2002


tgrundke: The immigration issue is one of the reasons that Germany, France etc. will never allow Turkey in, as long as its economy makes the likelihood of an even more massive exodus of its citizens to the West loom large.
posted by talos at 10:35 AM on December 14, 2002


As a Greek, I am actually for Turkey's admittance (although I don't know I am in the majority among my countrymen).

Actually, it was the Greek government (along with that of the UK) which applied sufficient pressure in Copenhagen to produce a date for negotiations to begin, rather than 'a date for a date', which was the position throughout the summer after the initial assessment. There's the Cyprus issue, of course: what the island looks like in 2004 may itself have a big impact on the start of negotiations. But most of all, it's about crossing our fingers and hoping that Turkey has a couple of years of political and economic stability, cleans up its act further on human rights (ending the death penalty is a good first step) and addresses the Kurdish question in a sensible way.

Something else that came out of Copenhagen, and hasn't been mentioned: the breaking of the deadlock on EU-NATO collaboration on a European rapid reaction force. That, too, may work well for Turkey, since it's a NATO member.

There's something to be said for the transformative power of the prospect of EU membership: in the 1970s, who'd have considered Spain and Portugal (or even Greece) as candidates for entry? You now have to appreciate the irony behind fears of 'swamping' with immigrants when there are more Daily Mail readers living on the Spanish coast than there are Spanish residents in the UK. The former Warsaw Pact countries are now starting to form part of the European tourist map. This decision can only help further to integrate east and west.
posted by riviera at 10:35 AM on December 14, 2002


Has a final boundary to the European Union ever been proposed? I'd always assumed that the long-range plan was to expand to Europe's geographic borders, but if they're talking about annexing Turkey they clearly can't mean to stop at the Bosporus.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:56 AM on December 14, 2002


Thanks everyone for an unusually civil discussion about politics. It's nice to actually learn something here instead of rehashing our prejudices.

Does anyone know how many years of negotiations it took for Spain and Portugal to enter the EU?

And does anyone think that a bigger EU might paradoxically mean less red tape and bureacratic ambitions, as it gets harder to impose too many laws on too many different places? I remember from a few years back that there was a lot of resistance among the French Euro-elite to the idea of a "two-speed" Europe, with a core group, aiming for political unification, surrounded by a wider group of trading partners. I don't know if that debate is still going. A bigger EU might wind up looking more like NAFTA, or the original EEC, than like the United States of Europe.
posted by fuzz at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2002


When Spain and Portugal joined the EU it was feared that the prosperous Northern European countries would be flooded by cheap labor and immigrants.

What happened was quite contrary. The immigration from those countries fell dramatically.

The logic of the expansion to the east is the same: Nobody is interested in leaving their homes and families if they can prosper at home. By letting the Eastern European countries into the European Union we will work to create economic growth in those countries - as have been done with the poorer European Union member countries in the past. They may not reach the level of affluence enjoyed by the richest Western European countries for a while, but as long as their economy grows, there is no reason for people to emigrate.

Thus, the fear of Turkish immigration could actually be a very good reason to admit Turkey as a European Union member.
posted by cx at 11:03 AM on December 14, 2002


Has a final boundary to the European Union ever been proposed? I'd always assumed that the long-range plan was to expand to Europe's geographic borders, but if they're talking about annexing Turkey they clearly can't mean to stop at the Bosporus.

I don't think there's ever been such a discussion, but I suspect that geographical factors come into it. I'd imagine that the Russian border in the east is a limiting factor, since there's no way that Russia could fit into the EU as currently composed, but that still leaves room for Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Romania...

(Tangentially: it looks as if the EU has managed to placate Russia's concerns over the Kaliningrad enclave by essentially telling Lithuania that it'll bankroll both the visa process and the provision of visas to Russians travelling to and from the 'mainland'. Won't stop it from being a benighted hole, though.)
posted by riviera at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2002


fuzz...I was somewhat amazed by the Euro reaction to U.S. lobbying to admit Turkey sooner rather than later. It's called diplomacy. Every single nation in the world is lobbying every other nation in the world about every international issue right now. The U.S. isn't forcing the Europeans to accept Turkey, any more than Europeans requesting that the U.S. sign the Kyoto Protocol is bullying. It's merely the diplomatic presentation of a case. And frankly, it's anti-Americanism.

If Europe really did feel that the US should make Mexico the 51st state, then of course they should lobby the U.S. to do it. That's the whole point of diplomacy. And, as fuzz noted, the Europeans lobby America, extensively, about *domestic* issues, while the US tends to save its lobbying efforts for international issues. Nonetheless, I've never heard anyone, let alone high level politicians, claim that the US is being bullied.

As for EU expansion, though, good for Europe. As long as they keep the bureaucracy in check, it should be great for European economic expansion. And as NAFTA showed, it will probably help raise environmental standards in Eastern Europe. Win-win for everyone.
posted by Kevs at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2002


I'm Swedish, and I've been undecided about Turkey joining the EU for a long time. I've had an open mind; even though Turkey of 2002 is a weak democracy, impoverished, and has poor human rights record to boot. "Maybe someday in the future", I've told myself -- despite these shortcomings. But, I'm undecided no more. Turkey's actions before, during, and after this summit have only served to make me convinced that this is not a country that belongs in the EU -- even if they will meet the economic and political conditions required someday in the distant future. (They sure as hell won't make it before the review in December 2004.) Turkey has essentially proved Valery Giscard d'Estaing right. It is not is not a European country, and should therefore not be a part of the union.

For example, where is the Turkish self-criticism after this summit? I've seen very little of that so far. And where was Turkish humility before and during the summit? There was none. Turkey acted like a spoiled little child, kicking feet and striking out. Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul "demanded" a 2003 starting date. What the hell were they thinking? Nobody can pressure the EU or its citizens into accepting new member states -- especially not Turkey, with its dismal human rights record. It was almost like the Turkish government didn't realise that the EU won't gain much, if anything, from accepting Turkey as a member...except maybe more problems. Current member states will only loose influence if they accept Turkey. There is also no popular support for expanding the EU to include Turkey. There's simply no incentive here.

Unsurprisingly, the Turkish Prime Minister continues in the same fashion, apparently totally oblivious to these facts. "Prejudice" and "discrimination" he says, lashing out at French President Jacques Chirac: "The real blackmail is what Chirac has done. I am very disappointed that Chirac has influenced and directed the meeting." WTF?! The first thing he does is to try to make a scapegoat of the EU and Chirac, when he only has himself and other Turkish officials to blame. Not a good sign for Turkey.

BTW, about the US lobbying... It backlashed because it was dumb. It's that simple. As one diplomat said: "[All it] did was to raise the Turkey's expectations to unreasonable levels. [...] The consequences can be disastrous. This could seriously affect the EU's relations with Turkey, and Turkey is our neighbour." Daniel Keohane, a researcher at the Center for European Reform in London, said: "It showed a misunderstanding of what the European Union is. [U.S. officials] see it as a trade organization and nothing else. [Being a member of the EU] is a question of values, particularly democratic values and human rights." It appears as some of the US commentators in this very thread have the same fundamental lack of understanding as well.
posted by livingdots at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2002


CX:

I agree with you wholeheartedly: People do not want to leave if they don't have to. And I agree that the fears of the Northern Europeans back in the day about Spain et. al were not well founded in the end.

However, I think that there is a fundamental difference today. As I mentioned, the Spaniards (my perpetual case study) are very loathe to move five blocks, nevermind 1500 km.

However, from my personal experience with the Eastern Europeans in Spain this is not the case. The Eastern Europeans have been finding every loophole and opportunity possible to get into Spain and maintain work permits as long as possible.

So it appears that we're caught in a bit of a catch-22: EU Membership is the best way to build up their home countries and keep people at home. However, EU membership will make immigration 'borderless' - making the movement even easier than it is today.

My point is: Without more stringent controls, the local population in Spain will be very negative toward the idea of letting new member states in.
posted by tgrundke at 12:44 PM on December 14, 2002


MetaFilter is from here on going to serve at the pleasure of FidelDonson.
posted by riffola at 12:51 PM on December 14, 2002


livingdots:

I could not agree with you more. Though while the EU is fundamentally much more than a mere trade union, its inception and foundation rests upon economics and trade.

We can proudly say all we want that the EU has some of the highest standards for human rights that are actively supported today. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, most Europeans are more worried about the drag of Turkey's economy than they are about their poor human rights record.

Similarly, while there may be a felling of solidarity or brotherhood toward Eastern Europe, the same formula holds true: as long as it doesn't detract too harshly from the home economy.

I still believe firmly that even if Turkey were able to miraculously turn its HR record into the best on the planet tomorrow, they still would not gain entry anytime soon. Spaniards, Portugese, and Italians are "relatively" similar in values- yet worlds apart in the same respect. Compared to other regions of Europe the differences are even greater. Compared to Turkey, they might as well be different universes.
posted by tgrundke at 12:55 PM on December 14, 2002


"Does anyone know how many years of negotiations it took for Spain and Portugal to enter the EU?"

See here for the spanish bid.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2002


Turkey's record on freedom of press is grim and unconvincing:

"Despite the announcement of democratic reforms within the framework of Turkey's candidacy for membership in the European Union, prosecutions for beliefs and opinions are still systematically and severely punished by virtue of a repressive legislative arsenal aimed at protecting the state against demands by the Kurds, Islamists and the far left."

And here is a chronology of Turkey's bid for EU membership - it's rather a love-hate relationship.

BTW: best discussion in Mefi ever - superb comments, well linked, civilised tone,... just perfect.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2002


MetaFilter is from here on going to serve at the pleasure of FidelDonson.

I noticed that too riffola ... got a big laugh out of it this morning ... as it is actually a first (I think) in the annals of MeFi. While this little community has a nearly continuous subcurrent in which we all yell at each other about what's been posted, how it's been posted, and how it's been commented upon, I can't recall anyone actually taking MeFi to task for the absence of FPPs on a topic.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:23 PM on December 14, 2002


I think it is difficult to overstate how inept both Ankara's and Washington's strategy were. As this German article (electronic translation here) argues, Ankara's position at the end of the summit is far less favorable than what the widely acclaimed pre-summit French-German proposition offered. The bullying was very thorough and of really shocking proportions:
- threats to boycott France and Germany.
- threats to formally annex northern Cyprus.
- threats to block NATO-EU cooperation.
That is outright blackmail and it has backfired. Still, the Turkish delegation could have flown back to Ankara with far less. My conclusion is that both the Turkish government and the hawks-led US administration fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the EU. The price for Turkey is that it is at best a decade away from EU membership. As for the US hawks, they just confirmed once again that they don't understand the world beyond US borders.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 1:34 PM on December 14, 2002


Washington has always taken a very "ho-hum" view of the European Union. And in a way, Washington's silence on many EU initiatives (the response to the common currency being the greatest and most pointed silence) signals to me that Washington simply does not 'get it' when it comes to Europe. More importantly, I think it demonstrates that the past and current administration recognize that a well organized, streamlined, cohesive Europe is far more of a threat to US hegemony than one wishes to admit.
posted by tgrundke at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2002


And for those USans still not getting it: since Jan. 1st 1996 Turkey and the EU are in a Custom Union - so don't come bitchin' bout with the old meaningless "not even giving them NAFTA as we did with Mexico" argument. Turkey has had a NAFTA style status for a long time.
posted by ugly_n_sticky at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2002


signals to me that Washington simply does not 'get it' when it comes to Europe

Not that we don't get it. We don't care. Politicians don't care because it doesn't affect votes. The citizenry doesn't care because it doesn't affect our daily lives. To me, it's a little loony because of all the sacrifices to national identity. It would be like the USA merging with Canada and Mexico.

a well organized, streamlined, cohesive Europe is far more of a threat to US hegemony than one wishes to admit

Doubt it. European governments make Washington gridlock seem like greased lightning.
posted by owillis at 6:48 PM on December 14, 2002


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