What’s Wrong With Turkey?

On December 16, Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey’s most famous writers, will enter an Istanbul court to face a charge of “insulting the national identity” after he advocated open discussion of the Turkish genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 and 1916. Pamuk faces three years in prison. Turkey’s effort to fine and imprison those who do not toe the official line convinces me that I was correct to oppose opening negotiations on the country’s European Union membership.

In December 1999, the European Council granted Turkey the status of EU candidate-member, implying that Turkey would accede to the Union at some future, unspecified date. The Council subsequently asked the European Commission to decide by October 2004 whether Turkey had sufficiently fulfilled the political criteria – including democracy, the rule of law, and respect for the rights of ethnic minorities – for membership. That decision was one of the last taken by Romano Prodi’s Commission, of which I was a member. Of its 30 members, 29 said that Turkey had fulfilled the criteria sufficiently to proceed. I was the lone dissenter.

The Commission’s own report on Turkey, prepared by Günter Verheugen, who was then in charge of EU enlargement, shaped my decision. This report mentioned that in 2003 some 21,870 Turks submitted asylum claims in the EU, of which 2,127 were accepted. In other words, the EU’s own governments acknowledged in 2003 that the Turkish government had persecuted more than 2,000 of its own citizens.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/25c7gS0;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.