European Press Review: The Challenge of Turkey | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.10.2004
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European Press Review: The Challenge of Turkey

European editorial writers on Thursday devoted many columns to the European Commission’s recommendation to start membership talks with Turkey.

The European Commission's green light to accession talks with Turkey, if endorsed by European leaders in December, heralds a potential transformation in Europe as momentous as this year's great eastward expansion, wrote The Daily Telegraph in Britain. It noted that some EU countries are alarmed for various reasons, but the paper said these fears should be rejected. It encouraged the EU to keep its word to Turkey and make it clear that it's not an exclusive Christian club. The paper ended by saying that if the EU can make Islamists adopt democratic values, then it will have shown that its "soft power" is as important as America's military "hard power" in undermining the political base of Islamist terrorists.

Turkey is a country like no other, wrote El Pais in Madrid, adding that its economy and democratic values are nothing like European standards. Taking Turkey on as a member of the European Union would be a big challenge, but one the paper said was worth it. The paper encouraged looking at the larger picture, that the issue is global stability and modernizing the Islamic world. The daily disagreed with the restrictions imposed on Turkey by European Commission, such as the clampdown on migrant workers. It said that if the EU wants to have Turkey as a member, it should do so without restrictions.

De Telegraaf in the Netherlands was much less giving on the issue. As far as the daily was concerned, Turkey is nowhere near ready to join the European Union. It said Turkey’s economy, justice system, culture and politics have a lot of reforming to do. Only then can Turkey join the EU, the paper stressed.

Europe is once again well on its way to over-straining itself, commented the Tages-Anzeiger in Zurich. It has becoming a testing ground and is doing all it can to minimize the damages, said the daily. But it added that the process can hardly be stopped now. The European Union is taking on a lot of responsibility by accepting Turkey. If it succeeds in integrating the large Islamic country, the EU will gain economically and in political stature, said the paper. But it warned that if it fails, the whole European project will be threatened.

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