The European Union is getting closer to making a decision about whether to start membership negotiations with Turkey. DW-WORLD readers say the time is ripe.
Will they regularly fly together in the future?
Turkey is definitely read to begin accession talks with the EU. Having been to 14 EU and EU candidate countries with many close personal relationships and having been to Turkey nine times, I feel I am allowed to make this claim on the basis of my numerous social and business experiences. Aside from the easily noted market and manufacturing gains, the EU needs Turkey to help invigorate the newer, poorer candidates from Eastern Europe as it is already doing in a number of economic sectors. Otherwise it will be more money out of European wallets. Plain and simple, Europeans need to get over their prejudices of Islam. As has been the case for a half century, trade relationships have overcome all other differences of peoples and I expect that to be the case again. Islam is not an issue for the EU at all. Anyone who has been to Turkey knows that Turks are Turkish first and Muslim second and that true Christian and true Islamic values are identical. Getting Protestants and Catholics together was the hard part! --
Political experts say that Turkey has introduced over 90 percent of the Copenhagen criteria, but implementation is slightly over 60 percent. Clearly, full implementation of Copenhagen criteria will take more time. I think Turkey will have implemented fully the criteria by mid-2005. Hence, talks should start by 2005. Any further delay will only make it clear for the world that the EU never was interested in opening up accession talks with Ankara. Turkey should certainly be a part of the EU and any further debate on this exact issue is meaningless. Turkey has met the Copenhagen criteria in terms of formal process, but the implementation of the legislation reforms is not complete. EU Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen also points that the only concern is the implementation of EU reforms, not if Ankara should join the Union. He said that if Turkey fulfilled the criteria by Dec. 2004, negotiations would open without delay -- meaning between four to six months. Ahmet Altan, the prominent Turkish novelist, once commented that "normal countries have armies, here in Turkey the Army has a country." The fact is that the EU adjustment process has de-militarized the society, reduced political nepotism, reduced economic malpractices, abuses on civilians and minorities, upgraded the penal code and more. This was possible because of visionary AKP leadership and strong support from the EU. Turkey is today a country which is admired by neighbors in the EU, Russia and the Middle East for embracing the project of uniting civilisations - the West with the East. -- Atilla A. Iftikhar