Turkey and the EU


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One of the most important items in the Brussels Agenda, during the meetings beginning today, Monday Dec. 7th,  and due to conclude with the Friday Summit is the issue of Turkey’s possible future membership of the European Union.

Turkey’s relationship with the EU is, in the view of this writer, an absolutely crucial strategic item for the Euro-Atlantic axis. The resolution of Turkey’s EU membership question would constitute a key move instrumental in resolving a number of burning issues in the international chessboard. Specifically, Turkey’s EU membership would guarantee for the Euro-Atlantic interests the following:

  • It would constitute the final phase of the restructuring of the Balkans, initiated by the destruction of Yugoslavia, by making Turkey, with all its demographic, cultural, economic and political power, as well as its historical relationship to the region, a key regulator and arbiter of Europe’s relationship with the Balkans – particularly those states, such as Albania and FYROM,  that have not, as yet, entered the EU environment.
  • Turkey, through its power and very close alliance with both the USA and the UK, will become the safety valve for the Euro-Atlantic axis, guaranteeing that there would be no possibility for the European Union of ever launching a process of autonomisation from the US Empire. The EU, with Turkey inside it, will not be able to develop an independent political strategy, remaining a corollary to US strategy while developing softer commercial and economic links among its members.
  • The development of these commercial and economic links would be to the absolute benefit of the European elites. Turkey has, over the last ten years, developed a growing retail and low-level transformation industry with very low labour costs, while it continues to be a reservoir of cheap labour destined for Europe. At the same, it has become an influential focus of low and middle level tourism and a geographical crossroad for oil and gas pipelines linking Europe with the productive areas.
  • Finally, Turkey has the potential of becoming an interlocutor for the EU in its relationships with the Islamic world. There is no question in my mind that Turkey, as a member state in the European Union, would be promoted as a soft and co-operative islamic country, in contrast to the extremist nations of Palestine, Lebanon and, especially Iran. Turkey’s close relationship with Israel also is part of this developing scenario.

Even a cursory glance at the four parameters above would indicate that there are inherent contradictions in them. All of the objectives cannot immediately morph into reality. Political interests, however, and money are doing a lot of talking. Therefore, the most immediate task in Europe would be to confront and marginalize into the background any opposition to Turkey’s membership of the European Union. Public opinion must be pushed into shape and things cannot be left to the vaccilations of either Sarkozy or Merkel. At the same time, the ruling elites of both Greece and Cyprus, the two EU states likely to object, must also be brought into line.

The main weapons to achieve these objectives are so-called ‘independent’ and ‘civic’ groups promoting a desired organic growth of the European Union – some of those organisations we saw develop in Ireland during the 2nd Lisbon referendum – organisations that have since disappeared.  The main organisation pushing for Turkey’s membership of Europe is the  Independent Committee on Turkey [1]which was created and is supported by the well-known  Open Society Institute [2] of George Soros flanked by the British Council.

Who is Who?

The Independent Committee on Turkey is a very well organised and financed lobby group whose main objective is to support and promote Turkey’s membership of the EU. It organizes conferences open to the public and has published a whole series of journals and reports. Its website clearly states that its focus is on the opinion makers: journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians.

Its Management Council is made up of individuals who, over the last twenty years or so, have played key roles in a variety of developments which make up part of the Euro-Atlantic strategy. Some of them have been involved in big time scandals and  have been behind a number of wars.

Its Chairman is Martti Ahtisaari, Former President of Finland and  Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2008. He was the author of the infamous Ahtisaari Report that paved the way for the independence of Kosovo. Following a number of accusations and rumours,  the United Nations conducted an investigation that found that over €2 million had been lodged into his private account from accounts in Switzerland and Cyprus……these accounts belonged to Albanian drug barons. Chapter 2 of the UN investigation found that a Jeep, belonging to a member of government in Pristina, had passed uncumbered through a number of borders and delivered over €40 million to Ahtisaari. None of these accusations were sufficient in any way to harm the man who in 2008 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!

It’s only natural that such a Chairman would have other worthy individuals assisting him in his work. Emma Bonino, former European Commissioner and former Minister for International Trade and European Affairs, and Vice-President of the Italian Senate is such an asset. Hans van den Broek, former Foreign Minister of the Netherlands and former European Commissioner is another. The latter was in charge of European integration  from 1993 – 99 and was well known for his strident support of Turkey. Bonino was one of the loudest voices arguing for the bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia ; her name was also implicated in the Santer – Cresson scandal – one of the biggest scandals ever to hit the Brussels elite.[3]

George Soros himself has been a hot supporter of Turkey’s EU membership. It was noteworthy that in June 12 1999, while the wounds after the bombing of Belgrade were still open, Soros, quoted in Newsweek was advising the ERU “to incorporate the entire southeastern  region of Europe into itself”.  10 years later, as this project is slowly and gradually becoming reality, he is now of the most influential supporters of Turkey’s membership of the EU. As is his trademark, he has, since 2008,  put his words into action and invested huge amounts in Turkey’s oil, financial and foodstuff sectors.

What do all the developments mean for Ireland? With the passing of the Lisbon Treaty, Turkey’s process of membership, notwithstanding a number of open wounds, such as the war in Kurdistan and the invasion/occupation of half of Cyprus, is presented by many in-the-know as an inevitable if not desirable process. In fact, there are a number of progressives who qualify any opposition to Turkey’s membership as reactionary – if not fascist!  Let us remind ourselves that the Cypriot people rejected in their absolute majority the Anan project only a couple of years ago – just a few months before we rejected the Lisbon Treaty. And that the question of the Turkish occupation of Cyprus has echoes here as Ireland and Cyprus remain the only two EU member states still under occupation.

Time therefore for us to consider some of these issues politically.

All comments and discussion on the above welcome

Michael Youlton is writing in a personal capacity. All views expressed here are his own. Photo shows Greek Prime Minister G. Papandreou and Alternate Foreign Minister D.Droutsas with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Davoutoglou in Athens a few days ago.



[1] Independent Commission on Turkey argues the following:

Was it European leaders who caused the slow-down of Turkey’s reform process in recent years, or was it the Ankara government’s lack of resolve? Is there a danger of “creeping Islamisation” in Turkish society? What are the chances for solving the Kurdish question, the Cyprus problem and the differences with Armenia? Can Turkey’s important new geo-political role in the region be an asset for the European Union?

These and other questions are answered in this report of the Independent Commission on Turkey.

The Independent Commission was established by prominent European politicians for the purpose of analysing some of the most pressing aspects of Turkey’s accession to the EU.

[2]               http://www.soros.org/

[3] In 1999, the Santer Commission resigned from their posts at the head of the European Commission.
The Santer Commission, led by Jacques Santer, took office in 1995. After an investigation into allegations of corruption concerning individual EU commissioners, the entire commission resigned on 15 March 1999. The allegations were first made by Paul van Buitenen: the Commissioner most criticised was the French appointed Edith Cresson. Due to her refusal to step down alone, alleging that all commissioners were involved in the same kind of nepotism as she committed, the entire Commission resigned.

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5 Responses

  1. Paul

    December 9, 2009 12:05 am

    Thanks for the article. Some very interesting detail on the backgrounds of the some of the members of the so-called Independent Commission on Turkey.

    The Sibel Edmonds case in America previously led me to speculate that large-scale bribery operations were also being conducted in Europe to facilitate Turkey’s EU application, and your article only lends weight to these considerations.

    What the European left tends to ignore is the effect that the intolerant views of the Turkish people will have on European culture generally. A Jewish institute in Turkey recently conducted an opinion poll survey which found striking levels of intolerance among ordinary Turks, including the finding that 57% of Turks would not want to live next to an atheist and approximately half of all Turks thought that non-Muslims should be barred from employment in many sectors of the economy.

    The results of the survey were widely reported in the German press but seemingly not at all in the English-language press, although I did discuss them on my own modest site.

    You may be interested to know that, as a British citizen, I filed a formal complaint with the British Council because of its financial support for the Independent Commission on Turkey, which is clearly a biased, propagandistic organisation. It is improper for British government funds to be used to finance political propaganda. The complaint was, not surprisingly, rejected by the British Council themselves. However, I now intend to pursue the matter and file a formal complaint with Britain’s public spending ombudsman about this clear misuse of public funds.

  2. Michael Youlton

    December 9, 2009 12:34 pm

    Almost as an addendum to my article above the Financial Times on Dec 9 says:
    Cyprus adds obstacles to Turkish EU accession path
    By Tony Barber in Brussels and Delphine Strauss in Ankara

    The Greek Cypriot-led government of Cyprus yesterday placed new obstacles in the way of Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union, declaring that it would not permit the start of accession talks in five policy areas unless Turkey changed its stance on the Cyprus dispute.

    Although no other EU country supported them, the Greek Cypriots exercised their right under EU rules to announce that they would block talks over free movement of workers; the judiciary and fundamental rights; justice, freedom and security; education and culture; and foreign, security and defence policy.

    Markos Kyprianou, foreign minister of Cyprus, described the measures as a “targeted response, not a complete freeze” to Turkey’s membership talks.

    However, Turkey warned last week that its accession process could suffer irreparable damage if EU leaders introduced fresh sanctions in retaliation for Ankara’s refusal to open Turkish ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic.

    After a two-day meeting that ended yesterday, EU foreign ministers decided against such sanctions after a majority concluded that discussions on a settlement among Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders were at a delicate stage.

    The foreign ministers said they would maintain a freeze on negotiations in eight of the 35 policy areas that Turkey, an official candidate for EU membership since 2004, must complete before it can join the bloc.

    Cyprus’s announcement went further, because the policy areas it listed are in addition to the eight where all EU countries agree talks should not proceed.

    Turkey opened EU accession talks in 2005 in return for a promise to permit direct transport links with the Greek Cypriots. Turkey has refused to honour the accord, saying the EU has failed to fulfil its commitment to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern Cyprus.

    Suat Kiniklioglu, deputy chair of foreign relations of Turkey’s ruling AK party, said that if Cypriot threats were true, it would indicate “that the Greek Cypriot government’s position is continuing to poison Turkey’s relations with the European Union”.

  3. Dimitris Tsouros

    December 10, 2009 10:28 pm

    Congratulations Mr. Youlton for generating such an important discussion and comments to this very important issue.
    Already the comments are promising. My view is that the European Union should only consider the possibility of accepting Turkey in the European Union when and if Turkey becomes a European thinking Nation without interfering in other neightbouring EU countries and creating problems,to end the occupation of Cyprus and let its people leave in Peace and prosperity and to abide by human rights.
    Turkey is a great Country that we all like to see propsper and be part of the Democratic family of the European Nations but it is this BUT that first has to be fulfiled and secured.

  4. William Mallinson

    December 13, 2009 8:04 pm

    A very good article,nicely lacking in politically correct hypocrisy.Perhaps the author is slightly too pessimistic. After all, most of Turkey is not even in Europe; second,the EU simply cannot afford to have an enormous new, poor, largely uneducated and backward population in its bosom; third is the huge difficulty of accepting the Kurdish problem as its own; fourth is the unlikelihood of the Turkish armed forces ever giving up their dictatorial constitutional role; fifth is Turkey’s refusal to withdraw its occupation forces from an EU membetr, compounded by a refusal to recognise and trade with that member;sixth, Turkey has a very unstable and artificial political system; seventh,it is rather insulting to the inhabitants of Turkey (whether Kurds, Osmanli Turks,Selchuk Turks,Huns,Arabs, Alawites, Muslims of hidden Greek stock , including the richer,superficially ‘westernised’ ones, with their off-the-peg western mannerisms and their studious avoidance of traditional Turkic customs) to transmogrify into typical Europeansn at the wave of a magic wand.
    One other factor which Michael Youlton might have mentioned is the fact that Turkey has been blackmailing NATO for several years, and simultaneously making it very difficult to forge a true CFSP(and I don’t mean the NATO-dependent ESDI/P),thereby making it difficult, ( with USUK connivance) to bring Greece and Cyprus into proper EU defence. But that’s another story. Anyhow,Bravo for your article!

  5. George Kyriacou

    December 23, 2009 1:18 pm

    Mr. Youlton, I would like to congratulate you for your important article and your braveness speaking the truth.
    I fully share Mr. Tsouros opinion. Moreover, in my own view, Turkey will be ready to join Europe, when Turkish elite governing the country will start respecting their own citizens.