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Europe

German Press Review: A Long Way for Ankara

German newspapers on Thursday commented on Turkey coming a step closer to fulfilling a 40 year old dream after the European Commission recommended that the EU begin membership talks with Ankara.

Thursday’s German editorials were both pessimistic and scathing as they commented on this issue.

Die Welt bluntly stated that Turkey is not ripe for entry into the EU. The Commission, with its recommendation to begin talks, is implying that the EU and the Turkish government are on the same level or that they see eye to eye. But, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogen is still against the EU conditions for membership notes the paper. It wrote that the EU doesn’t need Turkey but that Turkey needs the EU. Ankara is the applicant not Brussels. The paper pointed out that it is up to Turkey to prove that it is fit to become an EU member. Die Welt advised the EU that it must pull the emergency brake on accession talks if Ankara does not do its homework.

Münchner Merkur was even more scathing in its opinion. It wrote that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac have betrayed the inheritance of Europe’s forefathers -- Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle -- The paper condemned Schröder and Chirac for systematically instigating and aiding Turkey in its EU membership bid and it warned that the EU will no longer be a community of Christians and Occidentals but an arbitrary foreign-trade-zone if Turkey is admitted. Business leaders and military strategists as well as Britain and the US may be jubilant over the commissions recommendation but nevertheless wrote the Münchner Merkur the truth is that Europeans believe that Turkey’s membership will be nothing more than a historical tragedy.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten said the message from Brussels is doubt instead of hope, distrust instead of confidence. The paper stated that the EU will only open its once firmly locked door the width of a slit, but it will leave its hand on the handle ready at any time to slam it shut if Turkey slackens in implementing its reforms in areas such as democracy, human rights and basic liberties. What has become clear is that Turkey is as much a special case as it is an unloved friend, noted the paper.

On a more softer tone, the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger said what’s important is not that the European Commission recommended accession talks with Ankara but the revelation of the EU being ill-prepared for Turkey’s possible membership. The undertaking is risky and there are many provisions. The paper noted that the Commission has moved to smother suggestions of the possibility of the EU breaking-up. The paper warned that the EU could explode under the pressure of its own expectations and promises of enlargement. It is for practical reasons that Turkey instead be given a privilege partnership which would be much better.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote that the heads of the EU states now have a fateful and possibly also a fatal decision to make when they consider the European Commission’s recommendations this December. But the paper argued the concern of the European population over Turkey is not so much a further extension of the European Union but more its transformation.