Turkey’s Erdoğan Warns Will Not Wait for Europe

The Turkish premier demands membership for his country within ten years’ time.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German chancellor Angela Merkel address a joint press conference in Berlin, October 9, 2010
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German chancellor Angela Merkel address a joint press conference in Berlin, October 9, 2010 (Bundesregierung/Sebastian Bolesch)

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the European Union on Tuesday to grant his nation membership by 2023 and suggested that it could set up a currency union of its own instead of joining the euro.

At a joint press conference in Berlin, German chancellor Angela Merkel reassured her Turkish counterpart, “The EU is an honest negotiating partner.” She promised that ascension talks would continue “irrespective of the questions that we have to clarify,” referring to the country’s human rights record and disagreements over the status of Cyprus.

Greek Cyprus, a European Union member state that is also part of the eurozone, is opposed to Turkish membership. The Turkish republic in the north of the island is only recognized by the government in Ankara. Erdoğan argued on Wednesday that admitting the internationally-recognized Greek Cyprus without settling the sovereignty dispute had been a “mistake.”

Other European Union member states, including Germany, have conveniently cited Greek Cypriot objections to Turkish membership for years when they are themselves apprehensive about the Muslim nation of more than seventy million joining the bloc. Members of Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic party are almost unanimously opposed to Turkish membership as are conservatives in France, the Netherlands and other Western European nations. Indeed, only Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has openly called for Turkey to join.

Erdoğan’s proposed lira zone seems more a stab at the European currency union’s woes than a true plan for monetary union in West Asia. Although Turkey has signed free-trade deals and entered customs unions with several of its neighbors, it is farfetched to imagine any of them, besides possibly Azerbaijan, sharing the Turkish currency in the near future, especially as its engagement policy of “zero problems with neighbors” has been buried in the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Comments

  • Mr. Ottens: as a published historian, you should know that there is no such place as “Greek Cyprus, a European Union member state”…there is only The Republic of Cyprus, a member of the UN, EU and non-aligned nations, of which one-third has been illegally occupied by 40,000 Turkish troops since brutally invading the island in 1974. “Greek Cyprus” is a product of Turkish propaganda, which they wield in order to press toward their ultimate goal of recognition for the illegal state they have established on the stolen properties of Greek Cypriots, who still hold the legal title to these lands.

  • Angela Merkel should have used this opportunity to tell Erdogan in no uncertain terms that there is no place for Turkey in the EU club until it removes itself from the Republic of Cyprus territory and take back all it’s settlers, stop its threats against The Republic of Cyprus and Israel, stop funding terrorist activities in Syria, free all political prisoners and journalists in its jails, establishes an independent judiciary, ensures that The Kurdish people have autonomy over their affairs and their language recognised as an official language of the country and that Turkey’s politicians respect the EU it’s members and institutions. It is totally irresponsible of Ms Merkel to lead Erdogan to believe that without these reforms there can ever be any hope of joining. It’s not just about money at the end of the day.

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