The EU has entered into a Faustian pact with Turkey. All such agreements contain the paradox of seeking a higher good, only to fail at great cost. This deal is a display of abject desperation and weakness on the part of the 28 European, mostly Christian, nations in a conglomerate of half a billion people. It has consorted meekly with an almost exclusively Asian (97%), overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim country led by its increasingly authoritarian president Recip Tayyan Erdogan and wily Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu; this is surely a low point in EU history. Just look at the terms extracted by those men from the timorous EU envoys and then compare them with the paltry concessions Cameron ‘negotiated’ on our EU membership terms. So who exactly is the EU’s new ‘friend’ and aspiring partner?
The Turkey we know today is a relatively young member of the family of nations and was established in 1923 by the Treaty of Lausanne under the leadership of its first president, Mustapha Kemal Atatürk; this ended more than 620 years of Ottoman rule. Turkey is the main successor nation to the Ottoman Empire, whose power and prestige peaked in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. After its defeat at the second Siege of Vienna in 1683 and the end of the Great Turkish War in 1699, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of decline. It finally disintegrated after its defeat in World War One, during which it was responsible for the genocide of Christian Armenians (estimated at between 800,000 and 1.5 million victims) and Assyrians, something modern Turkey continues to deny.
Turkey is ostensibly a democratic, secular, unitary, constitutional republic of 303,535 square miles, the 36th largest by land area, above Chile and below Mozambique. It is bordered by eight countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece. It is home to 78,741,053 people (2015 census)of whom the largest minority (about 18%) are the Kurds. This makes it the 19th most populous country, well above Thailand, just below Iran and in excess of 13,000,000 above the January 2016 estimate for the UK. Turkey has the 17th largest GDP, above Iran and below Spain (the UK is tenth). In 2014, 39.8 million foreign visitors arrived in Turkey, which ranked as the 6th most popular tourism destination in the world, above Germany (and the UK at 8th) and below Italy; those visitors, eight percent of whom were British, contributed over $28 billion to Turkey’s revenues.
Turkey is a member of the UN, NATO, OECD, OSCE, OIC and the G-20. After becoming one of the first members of the Council of Europe in 1949, Turkey became an associate member of the EEC in 1963, joined the EU Customs Union in 1995 and started full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005. It is recognised as a regional power. Its democracy has been interrupted by military intervention in 1960, 1971 and 1980. Between 1998 and 2008 the European Court of Human Rights made more than 1,600 judgements against Turkey for human rights violations, particularly regarding the right to life and freedom from torture. Kurdish rights, women’s rights and press freedom have also attracted controversy.
Greece, considered the cradle of Western civilisation and the current front line in the migration crisis, has long and bitter memories of its time under Ottoman rule, which was invariably arbitrary and often harsh. Beginning in 1821 it fought for its independence, which was finally recognised under the London Protocol in 1830. The London Conference of 1832 fixed the final borders of the Greek kingdom. By the end of the two Balkan Wars the extent of Greece’s territory and population had increased. The Greek genocide was the systematic Ottoman-instigated ethnic cleansing of the Christian Greek community from its historic homeland in Anatolia. After WW1 Greece attempted to incorporate those people but was defeated in the Greco-Turkish War. The Lausanne Treaty stipulated a population exchange whereby Greek survivors left Turkey for Greece in exchange for Muslims who transferred from Greece to Turkey.
With three genocides of Christian minorities to its name, its continuing illegal occupation of northern Cyprus (an EU member state), increasing Islamisation, terrorist attacks, its oppression of the Kurds, human rights abuses and its troubled, mainly non-European location, is Turkey really suitable for EU membership?