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Turkey and the EU 14 février 2013

Posted by Acturca in EU / UE, France, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.
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Financial Times (UK) Thursday, February 14, 2013, p. 8                                         Türkçe


Both sides would benefit from reviving accession talks. If France’s decision to start dismantling roadblocks to Turkey’s membership of the EU, erected by Nicolas Sarkozy before he lost the presidency to François Hollande, is genuine, it is an overdue step towards sanity in managing a vital European relationship.

There are still huge hurdles, especially the poisonous politics swirling around the divided island of Cyprus, which could well bar the door to the Turks. But whether Turkey eventually joins the EU is less important than that it finishes its transformation into a vibrant democracy, dynamic economy and admired regional power.

The paralysis in the accession talks, now in their seventh year, has shut down a formidable engine of renewal and reform. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, hints at abandoning the European quest. President Abdullah Gul, whom he will probably replace next year, believes Ankara must stay on the EU path to complete its modernisation. The enthusiasm of Turkish voters for Europe – which tracks Mr Erdogan’s volatile moods – is fast evaporating.

This is a chance for the EU to revitalise relations with a country in which Islam and democracy cohabit, at a time when it is fumbling with upheavals on its Mediterranean and Muslim periphery.

For all its recent China-style economic growth rates, Turkey too should realise the extent to which its dynamism depends on advancing integration with the EU. Turkey’s trade has diversified impressively but three-quarters of its foreign direct investment still comes from the EU. More than 14,000 European companies are in Turkey and, unlike most of the country’s partners, they transfer technology. These companies, about half from Germany and France – the two big member states hostile to Ankara’s accession – sharpen their competitive edge with Turkish engineering skills: Renault has its most productive factory in Bursa.

There are three ways to reengage Turkey. As talks resume, the EU should remove visa requirements for Turkish businessmen, start reinviting Turkish leaders to summits, and involve Turkey’s defence establishment in EU foreign and security policy.

The debate about a multi-tier Europe triggered by the eurozone crisis (as well as noises-off in Britain) should involve Turkish leaders, who think they can more easily slot their country into an outer ring of the EU. It would also be a shame to waste Cyprus’s financial crisis. Is there no leverage there to inject some reason into the wrangle about the island’s future?


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