Events in the Press

In The News


1) IRISH TIMES, Friday, November 21, 2008

Irish No boosting Turkish Euroscepticism - economist


A PROMINENT Turkish economist says Ireland's current "ambivalent" attitude towards the European Union has encouraged Eurosceptic sentiment in Turkey.

Prof Sevket Pamuk told the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin that the Turkish government had become unenthusiastic about European integration recently and was now paying more attention to the views of Eurosceptics.

Asked whether Eurosceptics in Turkey were encouraged by Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, he said "of course, obviously they were".

He added: "It is noticed. It certainly makes things a bit more difficult for Turkey, but Turkey doesn't look for membership next year or in two years' time so we hope that five to 10 years from now the Irish will have ample time to reconsider."

Prof Pamuk, who is chair of contemporary Turkish studies at the London School of Economics, blamed a "nationalist backlash" in Turkey against the EU on a "very sharp change" inside the EU in recent years.

He pointed to vocal opposition to the idea of Turkish membership from leading politicians in some European countries.

"Turkish-sceptics in Europe and Europe-sceptics in Turkey have had a field day, feeding on each other."

Prof Pamuk predicted that Europeans would take their economic disappointment out on the European Union.

He said Europe was currently experiencing "enlargement fatigue", which would be made worse by the worsening economic situation. "I'm very much aware of that, speaking in this country," he said.

"The Irish may feel rather ambivalent towards European Union and especially feel disappointed about the current economic problems, but in the long term I feel Europe has been good for Ireland and Europe will continue to play a positive role for Ireland. I expect eventually the Irish people will come to that."

Prof Pamuk said Turkey had a lot of homework to do on social, political and economic issues before it could become an EU member, but it could act as a bridge between Europe and the Muslim world.

He said Turkey could be an important asset to the EU in terms of security issues, especially in the Middle East, and in the transmission of energy supplies to European countries.

Addressing concerns about jobs, he said Turkey had an ageing population, like European countries.

"In a decade or two there won't be many young Turks to go around looking for jobs."

2) TURKISH FORUM, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Turkish scholars yesterday (19 May) categorically rejected calls by France and Germany to replace the country's planned EU accession with a "privileged partnership".

Speaking at a Brussels conference organised by the'TR Centre for Turkey in Europe|', a think-tank, Turkish academics warned that it would be "impossible" for the country to accept any other kind of relationship with the EU than full membership.

"A privileged partnership will not provide an incentive for deep political transformation," said Şevket Pamuk from the London School of Economics. Pamuk - who is the brother of Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk - argued that if EU leaders keep saying that Turkey will never become an EU member, it will be very difficult for the country to tackle its internal problems successfully.

Binnaz Toprak, from Bahçeşehir University, argued that there was a feeling in Turkey that "whatever we do, the EU will never accept us, because we are a Muslim country". She explained that the Turkish Islamic movement has never attempted to install an Islamic state, but rather to make room for itself in the power and status hierarchy of the society.

"Unlike other Islamic movements elsewhere in the Islamic world, a strong radical Islamic movement never emerged in Turkey. Today the division between Islamists and secularists is not about whether the secularist state will remain. If you look at surveys, only 8% of the population would say they want an Islamic state," she argued.

"Islamists were kept out of society to such an extent that until recently, they were talking about themselves as 'the blacks' of Turkey, versus the secular 'white'," the Turkish scholar further explained. She said the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had built its success on its grassroots activities during the AKP's founding period, and on its capacity to bargain and compromise.

Professor Pamuk called on the EU not to invest all its efforts in its relationship with the ruling AKP. "During the early years of the AKP administration, when the EU found a willing ally in the AKP, which was willing to go ahead with reforms, I think the EU abandoned Turkey's Western-oriented secular elite and dealt primarily with the AKP. After 2005, these Western-oriented elites were disappointed by the EU. I think it is time for the EU to bring these Turkish secular elites back," Pamuk said.

Pamuk also commended the present Turkish government for pursuing an agenda of "zero problems with neighbours".

The Cyprus challenge

Constantionos Eliades, the Cypriot ambassador to Belgium, challenged Professor Pamuk to specify how the present government had improved its relations with all its neighbours.

"Turkey has to remember that with its present policies, it will never get accession. When you have a candidate country, behaving as the EU has 26 countries, occupying European territory and having hostile policy toward an EU country, [..] you need a reversal of the tide," the diplomat said.

In response, Pamuk reminded listeners that it was the Greek Cypriot community, not the Turkish one, who in 2004 rejected the UN secretary-general's reunification plan, suggesting a two-part federation with a rotating presidency.

Pamuk used the opportunity to call on the EU to take a more active role in the settlement of the Cyprus problem. At present, talks are ongoing between Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and Cypriot Turkish community leader Mehmet Ali Talat, under the watch of Alexander Downer, the UN's special advisor on Cyprus and a former Australian foreign minister.

3)TODAYS ZAMAN, Thursday, 7 May 2009

Turkey's accession to EU is commonsense, Bağış says

Turkey's Chief EU Negotiator Egemen Bağış said Wednesday that Turkey's accession to the EU was commonsense and commonsense would prevail.

Bağış who is visiting England delivered a speech at the London School of Economics,(LSE) on the process for Turkey's accession to the EU.

Bağış referred to the "privileged partnership" brought forward by certain EU members as an alternative to Turkey's membership to the EU, and said there was no such concept in the EU Acquis and it had no legal foundation. He said Turkey would not accept any alternative to full membership.

Bağış said many countries who had faced hardships in the accession process had become EU members in the end, noting that both candidate countries and the EU had gone through changes in the process. He said the same would apply for Turkey.

Bağış said a failure in Turkey's accession process would have grave consequences and criticized certain countries who were after their own interests in negotiations.

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