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The cost of no EU-Turkey: four views 31 mai 2009

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Open Society Foundation, May 2009, Istanbul                   Türkçe

Hakan Altınay, Michael Lake, Carl Bildt, Paulina Lampsa, Hakan Yılmaz

We as the Open Society Foundation care deeply about EU-Turkey relations, because we strongly believe that Turkey becomes a more open society as it gets closer to the EU. We also believe that the open society values in the EU grow stronger, as the Union gets ready to admit Turkey. When Turkey is admitted as a member of the EU, the new Union will be in a much better position to project open society values in the world, which we consider equally important.

With that goal in mind, when a group of friends of the Open Society Foundation met in January 2009, we realized with considerable discomfort that the consensus in Turkey and the rest of Europe on the fundamental desirability of Turkey’s accession to the European Union has evaporated. We currently have little more than committed advocates and bureaucracies on both sides which push the process along. The political commitment has withered. To remember why progressive deepening of EU-Turkey relations and eventual membership of Turkey are beneficial for all concerned, we decided to ask people whom we respect for their analytical insights and intellectual candor to articulate their perspectives on what the cost of no EU-Turkey would be. Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, warns against Europe’s character as being open and Europe’s capacity to be a force for good in the world, being hampered if EU turns its back to Turkey. Norbert Walter, Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank, argues that Europe cannot turn itself into a museum, and calls attention to Turkey’s medium term prospects for sustained growth. Paulina Lampsa, International Relations Secretary of PASOK, underlines the costs to a stable and prosperous Eastern Mediterranean. And, Hakan Yilmaz, Professor of Political Science at Bogazici University, claims that Europe will forego a vital opportunity to engage with difference, and Turkey will miss out on a crucial opportunity to re-synchronize with Europe if EU-Turkey relations fail. These answers are by no means the final word on the opportunity costs, but rather an exhilarating beginning to a revealing intellectual exercise. We encourage everyone concerned to draw up their own balance sheet.

We are grateful to Michael Lake, who has participated in and followed Turkey’s journey into EU since early 1990s, for thinking and working with us on this exercise.

The timing of the exercise is not coincidental. On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman presented his bold vision for the European Union. Since then, May 9 has become the day when those who believe in Europe take the time to review how far this unique and daring project of peace, prosperity and liberty has come, and what more needs to be done. We as the Open Society Foundation intend to repeat this exercise annually, and engage each year a different group of Turks and other Europeans who are committed to the success of the European Union, on the opportunity costs of a sub-optimal EU-Turkey relations.

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