December 20, 2005
Will Turkey Join the EU?
The Europeans are suffering a severe identity crisis. They don't
know who belongs to the tribe. Are the Turks European? Are the Albanians
and Bosnians -- who were culturally shaped by the Turks -- European?
The Europeans don't even know the geographic boundaries inhabited
by such a diffuse tribe. Is Russia part of Europe? Is there a European
entity, or is it just some sweet, poetic license behind which hide
the usual small and warlike tribes: French, English, Germans, Iberians,
Italians and the rest of the troops?
This is not
a minor question. Turkey knocks with insistence at the gates of
Europe. Turkey brings 70 million inhabitants, its vast territory,
three times the size of England, and its Islamic religion. In
the 17th century, Western Europe trembled when the Turkish troops
besieged Vienna. At the time, the Turks wanted to blast their
trembles because the Turks want to enter nicely, displaying a
remarkable record of merits and services. Although imperfect,
Turkey is a democracy with a pluralistic parliament and a free
press. Its leaders' traditional firm hand -- cruel to the point
of martyrdom with Armenians and Kurds -- has lost its harshness
with the passing of time, and Islam, without anger or veil, is
practiced with a much smaller quota of fanaticism.
Turkey that has been in NATO since 1952 and, from the southern
frontier, defended access to the Mediterranean throughout the
Cold War. If the Turks were good enough to fight in Korea and
belong to NATO, why aren't they good enough to join the European
oppose Turkey's admission wield several reasons. Demographic density
would give the Turks greater weight in the EU's Parliament and
other institutions than the English, French or Italians. In 20
years, with their fertility rate they would surpass the Germans,
who today are the most numerous.
also fear the migratory wave. The EU is a free space for people,
goods and capital. Millions of Turks, whose per-capita income
is barely one third that of the Irish, might seek in Europe the
opportunities they don't find in their peninsula.
the pessimists say, the Turks would take Vienna by assault, this
time with an army of unemployed people whose inscrutable customs
make them hardly assimilable. This massive presence, the naysayers
maintain, could degenerate into street riots like the ones recently
experienced by the French.
have no moral or juridical basis, however. In 1993, EU representatives
gathered in Denmark and set down the admission requirements for
any new states that might want to join the federation. Thus, the
Copenhagen Criteria: rule of law, a pluralistic democracy, a market
economy and respect for human rights -- including the abolition
of torture and the death penalty.
said about dimensions, population, wealth or religion. Europe
had room for the opulent Dutch monarchy and the much humbler Greek
republic. There was room for Germany, with its 90 million inhabitants,
and for Luxembourg, a charming operetta duchy with barely 500,000
performers and stagehands who engage zestfully in selling financial
services or guarding queasy fortunes.
practically all of those requirements. So what's going to happen
with Ukraine if it manages to stabilize its democracy? Will it
enter Europe? And what's going to happen if Russia someday knocks
at Brussels' doors? Isn't Europe the land of Tolstoy, Dostoevski,
Stravinsky and Nabokov?
czars sought to save Russia, they Frenchified it to the point
of caricature. We can't rule out that some savvy leaders will
try to do the same in the future. Europe wouldn't know what to
do. The expression ''to die of success'' sometimes can be something
more than a paradox.