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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December 2004, 11:01 GMT
Should Turkey join the EU?
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the EU and Turkish flags
The EU and Turkey have struck a deal over a demand that Turkey recognise Cyprus before it begins talks on membership.

European and Turkish diplomats said a compromise had been reached in which Turkey promises to recognise Cyprus by next October's start date for negotiations.

Some countries are worried that Turkey's large and rapidly growing population and low average income might make integration into the EU difficult.

Other opponents are concerned about Turkey's human rights record, despite reforms it has recently enacted.

Do you think Turkey should join the EU? Can Turkey act as a diplomatic bridge between Europe and the Middle East? Send us your views.

This debate is now closed. Here are some of the comments we received:

One thing is for sure, if Turkey joins the EU then it can no longer be called the EU or European Union. What next? WU or World Union? World power and world domination? Exactly what is the plan of these unelected officials who are running the EU?
Anna, Amsterdam

I suppose that Turkey should be an EU member - this step should prevent them from drift towards Asia. As a Polish citizen, I am the recent member of EU. We should realize that rejecting Turkey aspirations would result in isolation and growing frustration. So I am for their admission, but I agree that there must not be any compromises regarding Cyprus. There is a big challenge ahead of EU - how to place Turkey into a political and social framework of Common Europe.
Bartek, Warsaw, Poland

I wonder if Europe would accept Turkey if we didn't have such a big army and if we were not in a region very near to the energy sources.
Bulent T, Izmir Turkey

Who needs the EU? Why should citizens of Turkey relinquish sovereignty for membership in a club where its people do not even recognize the benefits of expansion, tolerance and true power? EU citizens who oppose Turkey's entry are ignorant of historical, social, economic and legal facts about Turkey, and are most importantly ignorant of where their own roots and futures lie. Turkey today is an embodiment of ancient Greece, Rome, Sumerian, Hittite, Mesopotamian and Ottoman civilizations - the very fabric which makes up the crux of European and even US political and social institutions today. Turkey does not necessarily need to join the EU to succeed, it needs only to tap into the riches of its own psyche.
Emrah, Istanbul

The organisation is already too big and unwieldy
Alex Cramphorn, London, England
How is Turkey considered part of Europe? Who's next? Israel? There's no way Turkey should be given membership of the EU; the organisation is already too big and unwieldy. What started as a grand vision for peace and prosperity in the continent of Europe seems to be just stumbling forward under its own inertia. The EU is still a noble organisation but I fear that it is being run by the wrong people. Europeans feel remote from the institutions of the EU and the accession of Turkey would make this even more acute; after all, has anyone even consulted the people of the EU about this matter?
Alex Cramphorn, London, England

Turkey should join the EU but I am curious why the US so vigorously pressures the EU to accept Turkey. Is it because US want an ally in the EU to keep Europe divided? I am very suspicious of that, knowing that US doesn't want another superpower to emerge in Europe.
Andreas Frantzeskos, Kingston, Canada

They have worked hard to reach EU standards in all sorts of domains
Alain Hernu, Andresy, France
Yes Turkey should join the EU or we should have told them from the start (as we did to Morocco), that it was not possible. They have worked hard to reach EU standards in all sorts of domains, so it would be incorrect to tell them we don't want them now.
Alain Hernu, Andresy, France

Turkey's so-called transformation into a European state is more motivated by economic necessity than a genuine desire to implement democratic principles and values similar to that of any member state. In fact the packages adopted in Turkey fall far short of the minimum that is required of her to fulfil the Copenhagen Criteria. A case in point would be Turkey's treatment of Kurds. Turkey's bid for EU membership is welcomed by the country's 15-20 million Kurds, but the legacy of 80 years of denial of Kurdish rights can't be undone by loosely applying a few EU adaptation packages
Adil Al-Baghdadi, London

Let's face it the US doesn't want Turkey to form a bloc with the Muslim nations of the Middle East. They would rather see Turkey within the EU. Likewise they let Turkey in NATO to prevent a Russian influence during the cold war years. The noise coming from the EU shows the dilemma for the Europeans who do not want Turkey to form a muslim block either but it bites as the idea is imposed by the USA.
Zafer, London

No, no and no. Why should Turkey be in the EU? Turkey is simply not Europe. It will endanger the foundations of the EU. Only a privileged partnership must be envisaged for Turkey.
J. Berger, Netherlands

Greece and Turkey caused already so many malfunctions within NATO, imagine what their bilateral rivalry would bring into the EU. And if that's not enough, Euroskepticism will grow further than the British Isles and Scandinavia. Is Europe trying to formally disintegrate? If so Turkey's admission is the right choice
Andreas, San Francisco CA, USA

If the EU denies Turkey the right to accession, it would be nothing short of scandalous. If any country wants to join, and they meet the criteria, then there should be nothing to stop them.
James Wilson, Dundee, Scotland

I have enjoyed the diversity that is all around me
Ugur Asci, London, UK
As a Turk living in the UK, I have in no way felt my ethnic background, religion or cultural background has been at odds with my surroundings, I have enjoyed the diversity that is all around me. I like to feel that I in return have contributed something back to my adopted country by means of work, tax contributions, and interaction with others - that to me is the living example of Turkey in Europe. If the enlightened leaders of the EU would note the tolerance that this type of living together can bring, instead of pointing out the differences of culture, religion etc, that may lead them to vote for the start of accession talks with Turkey to create a harmonious Europe that would contribute to world peace.
Ugur Asci, London, UK

So long as Turkey is a stable country I don't see any reason why not, and it may help sort out Cyprus!
Oliver Stieber, England

Turkey is not part of Europe, either geographically , nor culturally, hence it doesn't belong in the EU.That's not to say that improved trade agreements can't be introduced, but full integration isn't the way forward. There are too many countries trying to feed from a diminishing trough....And has anyone thought to actually ask the people of Europe what they want ?!
Jake, Washington DC

Turkey knows what it needs to do
Trevor Fenning, Jena, Germany
Before Turkey joins the EU, it must stop being necessary to be Turkish and a Muslim to live there. Turkey continues to persecute religious and cultural minorities, which is rather strange for a secular state. The current government is a huge step forward, and it shows that it is possible to have a moderate Muslim government, but it still has a long way to go. Turkey knows what it needs to do, so if it really wants to join it should be allowed to do so, but not by changing the rules, as that will devalue EU membership for everyone.
Trevor Fenning, Jena, Germany

Turkey most certainly should join the EU if it puts its standards in line with those of the EU, but there cannot be any weakening of those standards by the countries of the EU to facilitate Turkish entry. And there can be no compromise on Cyprus. How can Turkey hope to join the EU if it fails to recognise one of its member states? How could this possibly be compatible with EU law?
Max Sommers, Athens, Greece

If Turkey is allowed to join the EU it will show just how big a con the whole system is. Here is a country that has forcibly invaded another country and still refuses to give it back. It is to fight against this kind of oppression that the EU was supposedly formed in the first place. Turkey should never be tolerated within the EU if there is ever to be an EU.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

The idea that Turkey can be a bridge between the West and the Middle East is a false one.
Riza Unal, London
As a Turk living in London, I feel very despondent and angry at the way my country has degraded and demeaned itself to such a low in a very undignified manner in its attempts to join the EEC/EC/EU. I cannot think of any other country in the other world that has degraded itself so much and turned its back on its past and identity. I do not blame the EU here (although I am sick of hearing phrases like, 'European values', European norms, 'European standards on democracy and human rights' etc. because I don't believe they exist), I blame Turkey itself for wanting something which is completely unnatural. If the EU needs a token Muslim country, Bosnia would have fitted the bill perfectly (small, inside Europe, economically viable, population of European stock). I just wish Turkey would be itself and try to be more dignified and honourable.

The idea that Turkey can be a bridge between the West and the Middle East is a false one. Turkey has turned its back on the Middle East and Islam. It has no idea on the intricacies of the languages, cultures, religion and politics of the Middle East (and its own peoples' as well) and has no influence or standing there at all.
Riza Unal, London, UK

After a full membership of Turkey, millions of Turks will emigrate to other countries within the EU. I don't think the EU is ready for that. The cultural difference is just too much. Although it is against the benefits of my country, I think a limited economic membership, at least for the time being, is the best solution.
Onur, Istanbul, Turkey

Admittance of Turkey, a majority Muslim nation, into EU will give greater credibility to the EU when taking a stand on the issues pertaining to other Muslim states around the World.
Ripudaman Singh, Aarhus, Denmark

I cannot believe some of the comments made here. Turkey is just not ready to join the EU yet - in a country where women can only work with the agreement of their husband. They need to get their act together: economy, politics and human rights should be sorted out first. Diversity in Europe is a key element.. but only when the country is ready to face the implications of belonging to Europe.
Emily, Montpellier, France

It has made concessions and the EU has returned nothing
Jim, NJ, USA

Turkey has been dancing to the EU's tune for years in an effort to become accepted as a member. It has made concessions and the EU has returned nothing. In my opinion, the longer this drags out the greater the chance that this backfires and causes ill will across the Muslim world towards the EU. How many more changes can the EU demand of Turkey before it is perceived as stringing Turkey along or rejected it solely for cultural reasons?

Whether the EU wants to acknowledge it or not, it began the admission process the first time it placed demands on Turkey. Turkey should be admitted now. The human rights reforms and other changes still being demanded would be much easier to implement once some of the benefits of EU membership are realized anyway.
Jim, NJ, USA

They can have our spot! Maybe then we can have our government run our country without everything that happens here going to the European court when individuals don't get their way. Frankly, having watched the EU evolve, I don't know why they would want to join!
Darren Riley, Staffs, UK

This is one for Europeans to decide. Here in the US most people would probably favour EU membership for Turkey - as they did the recent admittance of former Soviet bloc countries. The US is somewhat remote from this and we wonder why there is so much controversy over this.
Dave Woods, Cleveland, USA

I believe Turkey should be admitted to the EU. Not simply because a number of Turkish citizens live in Europe physically but because of Turkey's long history of interaction and interrelation with (at least south-eastern) Europe. People keep talking about the need to include something about the Christian history of Europe in the constitution.

The admission of Turkey ... would be a clear sign of religious tolerance and acceptance
Dan Adler, Summit, NJ, USA
The admission of Turkey would send a clear signal that Christianity is neither the only religion in Europe, nor the one that has been practiced the longest. It would be a clear sign of religious tolerance and acceptance, and I believe that to be something which, in today's world, is vitally important.
Dan Adler, Summit, NJ, USA

I think that this is a great step in a positive direction. The EU is currently the only multination organisation that can be taken seriously and is the model for several other regional based nation communities.
Gareth Davies, Seoul, South Korea

If there are those who fear Turkey it is as simple as, fearing what one does not understand. Turkey does have its disadvantages but its advantages are much more attractive in the long term. Need I remind those in the USA that once your oil reserves run out in 15 - 20 yrs time, Turkey is a part of the route for oil to be exported and to the USA and the only safe route!
Armaan Chohan, Manchester, England

Turkey has no place in a predominantly Christian EU.
Bruce Plowman, Doha, Qatar

We have a lot to offer to the EU
Gulin Saylan Seymen, Istanbul

Definitely yes but without losing dignity! The best place an economically stable Turk could ever live in is his homeland, not a French, English or a German urban area in which he will feel like a foreigner even if he is 100% European by the laws of the EU. So the migration of Turks from Turkey to Europe in the long run will not be a valid case. While we stabilize economically by steps taken towards EU, we have a lot to offer to the EU, young works force if needed, bright brains, a secure bridge between west and east and a role model proving east can meet west peacefully. Which other candidate country can serve this many purposes?
Gulin Saylan Seymen, Istanbul, Turkey

The question is: where is the frontier of "Europe"?
Marc (Belgian), Mexico
The question is: where is the frontier of "Europe"? Most Europeans don't feel being in their Europe when they go to Turkey. Economically Turkey can join, but politically, I have doubts.
Marc (Belgian), Mexico

EU invited Turkey in 1999 to become a candidate. It is obvious that the benefits are mutual. But EU public is not aware of mutual benefits.
Enis Cetin, Ankara, Turkey

We have the necessary bridge between Asia and Europe
Songul, Turkey
Last minute conditions that may cause the negotiations to stop can only stop talks, but never our path to democracy and modernisation. Europe will only lose the chance to add a great and shiny colour to her flag. We also have the necessary bridge between Asia and Europe.
Songul, Turkey

Turkey has been waiting for over 40 years to enter the European Union and it appears we will wait another 10 to 15 years. The main handicap is being a Muslim country and the cultural differences with other members. Millions of Turkish people have been working and living in European countries since the beginning of the 1960s. So in my opinion Turkey's membership should be accepted. This acceptance will provide benefit to the both side.
Ibrahim, Turkey

This is a great victory for the Turkish government. Both European countries and Turkey will benefit from this.
Sedat Asiroglu, Turkey

Turkey will be at the EU's door in 15 years, looking for wider access to a huge market. Now is our chance to see this ahead of time.
Barish Celik, Istanbul, Turkey

Definitely yes, it is the only chance for Europe to get to know more about Islam and how to join the Middle East and Europe. That will bring us world peace.
Martin, Prague, Czech Republic

As a Turkish citizen, I think what is happening at the moment is comedy. Turkey will never be accepted. We should never join the EU or negotiate relations with Cyprus. A big no to all of this.
Emrah Ozan, London, UK

By not recognising Cyprus - a full sovereign member state of the EU - Turkey does not recognize or respect the very essence and meaning of the European Union.
Demetris Demetriou, Paphos, Cyprus

Owning a house in Turkey and having spent more time there than most, I think many Brits will find we have a lot more in common with a lot of the Turkish population than they think. They are a much more modern and sophisticated country than most give them credit for. I think people's prejudice against Turkey is based more upon religion than anything else. I personally can't wait... at last someone in the EU I fell I have something in common with...
Ben Shepherd, Farnham, Surrey, UK

If France and Germany cannot integrate their own Turkish citizens, how could a whole nation be integrated into the larger European fabric?
Drew, Kingston, Canada
Although I support Turkey's entry, I have to ask: if France and Germany cannot integrate their own Turkish citizens, how could a whole nation be integrated into the larger European fabric?
Drew, Kingston, Canada

The West claims that it wants to work more with Muslim Nations and "capture the people's hearts and minds." If the EU rejects Turkey, the most democratic and secular Muslim country, then it will be a clear sign to all Muslims that the West is not serious about avoiding a clash of civilizations. Here we have Turkey lending its hand, leg and the whole nine yards to become part of the EU and all they get is criticism. Europe should back its talk with action. Let Turkey join the EU!
Hassan Nasir, New York, USA

It is in Europe's interest to allow Turkey to join. Turkey has a potential few countries in Europe can match, the culture and history of Turkey is far superior than most of the European countries and Europe can't afford not to allow Turkey.
H Ramzy, Canada

While European populations are aging rapidly, Turkey's is growing and dynamic
Jonathan Ruta, Ottawa, Canada
Europe has to keep its eyes on the future. While European populations are aging rapidly, Turkey's is growing and dynamic. Such a workforce will be essential for the bloc's economic feasibility in 25 to 50 years. Even nowadays, the strategic and symbolic importance of accepting Turkey - a bridge between the Middle Eastern, Muslim world and the West - will create the exact international influence the EU is seeking as a counter-balance to the United States.
Jonathan Ruta, Ottawa, Canada

If Turkey joins the EU, it will be the most powerful country in the European parliament, because of its population and according to the future constitution. So my answer is no.
Mark, Lausanne, Switzerland

Turkey could act as a diplomatic bridge between Europe and Eurasia- Middle East and should be given a chance to joint the EU.
Jenkins, Mass/USA

Everyone in Turkey and the EU should simply wake up to the reality that Turkey will indeed become a full member of the EU in the very near future. I find it quite strange that those who visit Turkey find it a beautiful and fascinating country with great history, food, family values, culture and people. Surely these are major plus points.
Faruk Pekbeken, Guildford, Surrey

Turkey is already making imperious demands on EU members
Kevin Hendryx, Austin, TX, USA
Turkey should certainly not be in the EU, not if "European" is to have any meaning at all. The Turks are not European in language, culture, history, religion, or attitude, or even geography, except in the shallowest of ways (and even that is through conquest). Turkey is already making imperious demands on EU members.
Kevin Hendryx, Austin, TX, USA

Turkey should join only when they meet the European standards in terms of respecting human rights and international law. In Turkey, it is the military generals who are behind every decision of the government which results in lack of democracy. This is opposite the European way of thinking and for me this is the main reason why the EU should wait longer, till Turkey adjusts.
Thodoris, Kozani, Greece

It is more logical for Russia, a European country to become a member of the European Union than Turkey. By all means Turkey should be admitted, but I for one believe that preliminary discussions between the EU and Russia on Russia's membership should begin soon.
C. Alexander Brown, Ottawa Canada

I think Turkey should join, but not yet. The EU is not ready to share borders with Iraq, plus there are 10 new countries trying to settle within the union at the moment. There are also other candidates, more qualified and smaller in size than Turkey. Their integration will be easier. However, I do believe that the EU should support Turkey until it is ready to join.
IP, Athens, Greece

Why doesn't the EU allow citizens to hold votes on who should be allowed to join?
N. Hawkins, London, UK
Turkey is not European in culture, economy, politics or any other factor. Why doesn't the EU allow citizens to hold votes on who should be allowed to join - or would this mean the MEPs and Euro business rulers wouldn't always get their way?
N. Hawkins, London, UK

There are obviously two ways of building or strengthening a democracy in this world. The American one, and what the Europeans and Turkish are about to achieve now. The significance of Turkey's integration is well beyond Europe itself. It's the only and most certain way to establish peace, democracy and tolerance in this world.
Irgi, Marseille, France

If Turkey wishes to join the EU then it should be welcomed into the union, provided that its government complies with the regulations that all other EU countries abide by with regards to being democratic states. I'm not sure that Europe needs a bridge for diplomacy with the Middle East. We already negotiate successfully with states in the region. But in terms of trade and for the democracy of the nation, membership of the EU should change its fortunes for the better. But it should continue to make the necessary reforms with its human rights policies.
Daniel Curwood, Annesley Woodhouse, UK

Turkey has never been part of Europe. It is currently culturally and economically too distant from the EU in order to be integrated efficiently. As a result, a Turkish entry to the EU will be disastrous for the European dream of integration and for Turkey itself.
Matt Koffer, USA

Almost 12 years later, a resolution still seems unlikely
Selin, Arlington, VA, USA
When I was 19 I studied in Brussels and worked part-time on Turkish-EU relations. When I met with EU officials they would tell me they loved Turkey and wanted to retire there but the EU (EC then) would never admit them. The Turkish mission was (somewhat blindly) optimistically saying of course it'll happen. That was 1993. Almost 12 years later, a resolution still seems unlikely even with Friday's decision. Regardless of the outcome, as a Turk, I am very glad to see a Turkish government finally grow a backbone and stand up to EU officials.
Selin, Arlington, VA, USA

I do think that Turkey should come in from the cold, so to speak. And, it is in the Middle East where the benefits could really be felt. After all, Turkey is the former colonial power throughout the Middle East and, since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, there has been no stability in that region.
Harry, Broadstairs

With its perspective, Turkey is a unique opportunity to unify the cultures and continents. Both sides should be ready to endure the pain to see this dream comes true. Otherwise Europe will be very dull without Turkey and Turkey will be very disappointed.
Azim Ozdemir, Sheffield

The inclusion of a nation where the majority of people worship Islam would show that Europeans are inclusive at a time when "The West" is seen as dismissive of all things Islamic and non-Christian. Also, it is arrogance to say that "Europe" is Christian when we already have such a diverse array of faiths practiced within the EU, of which most of us are tolerant.
Chris Newman, Lowestoft, UK

Entry into the EU in the long run seems like a natural progression
Tim, Lancashire, UK
Every year Turkey takes part in the European Song Contest, while Turkish football teams play in European competitions. Entry into the EU in the long run seems like a natural progression. Given the current climate in Iraq however, I would not expand the borders of the EU just yet.
Tim, Lancashire, UK

I would like to see a completely secular EU, and Turkey should be admitted.
Andrew M, Walsall, UK

Not until it vastly improves its human rights record and truly embraces democracy.
PJ, W. Yorks, UK

Turkey IS an economical, diplomatic and social bridge between Europe and the Middle East. All three parts benefit and can benefit more from such a relationship. So, why not remain a bridge? Why should the EU risk an irreversible turmoil?
Carlo Genovese, Genova, Italy

Turkish membership in the EU will spell the end of the union. This is not because of xenophobia, but because a strong union needs cultural and political coherence to survive.
Morten, Stavanger, Norway

Turkey is ready for accession talks but I am not sure whether the European Union is that ready.
Emre Iseri, Canterbury, UK

It's time for people like the French Prime Minister and others to give up their xenophobic reactions and welcome the inclusion of Turkey to the EU. It's the embracing of different cultures that leads to a more richer society. Inclusion of Turkey would also lead to a greater appreciation of Islam as a peaceful religion and way of life and opening the doors to the currently Christian club of the EU would only lead to a better understanding of diversity that can only be good for Europe and Europeans.
Sameer Ebrahim, Hyderabad, India

How can people as Sameer Ebrahim, Hyderabad, India and/or Rob Thomson, Sheffield, UK express opinions while saying that Chirac is against Turkey? It is exactly the opposite: Chirac is a strong supporter of the Turkish integration.
Dominique, France

Turkey should join the EU as soon as possible so the power of the Franco-German alliance is diluted even further
Rob Thomson, Sheffield, UK
Turkey should join the EU as soon as possible so the power of the Franco-German alliance is diluted even further. That is why France is against the Turkish entry! Let's just wait to hear the long list of spurious reasons Mr Chirac comes up with to block the Turks. European integration suits the French and Germans as long as suits them!
Rob Thomson, Sheffield, UK

Why not, practically everyone else has or will eventually! One world government, here we come.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

These reasons seem to be more political than economic. Let us remember that the EU is an economic union of like-minded nations, not a political bargaining chip. The EU has much work to do with the 10 accession nations before it can even consider the economic implications of Turkey (let alone its political and religious implications).
Jonathan, London

I struggle to see what the union gains by accepting Turkey with its poor economic and human records. All I see is bigger bills for upgrading its infrastructure. People talking about bridges between Asia and Europe are in my view misguided. What the inclusion of Turkey will do is bring a massive economic and military power in Europe right on to the doorstep of the Asians. This has the potential to cause more tension and unease amongst the likes of Iran etc, who it may well force into arms proliferation. We should think very long and hard about this.
Mark, Sheffield

The addition of such a different culture to the EU goes against the fundamental idea of the EU - the benefit of more open trade between essentially similar markets.
Graham Mitchell, London, UK

Tell you what: Turkey can join, as long as Britain leaves.
Duncan, London

With this government of ours, it is better not be in EU! Can anyone say that Turks want to be viewed as Islamic? Isn't it the governments and media that dictate it?
Gokhan, Ankara, Turkey

Being from the USA, I'll be the first to admit that this is none of my business or for that matter any other American's. Nonetheless, it does seem odd (viewed from a perspective across the pond) to admit an Asian nation to the "European Union". Additionally, does Turkey meet the same humane standards of treating indigenous ethnic minorities (i.e. Kurds, Armenians) as do other multi-ethnic EU nations such as Spain or Belgium?
A. Seta, Cincinnati, Ohio USA

If (and it is a big if) Turkey meets the criteria to join the EU, then they should be allowed in. But it will require a lot of hard work on the part of the Turks to clean up their act, economically, politically and socially. We will have to wait and see if they have the will and desire to do this....but to be honest I'm not that optimistic that they can do it.
Claudio, London

No. Turkey should not be allowed to join. I do not want to be in a political union with a Muslim country. I do not want to be part of an organisation having a border with Iraq and whoever else it is. As it happens I do not want to be in a political union with the continentals either. Being with Turkey is even worse. The only advantage is that it will enrage the population of Europe even more and make them even more angry about the anti-democratic clique that are forcing European integration and the expansion of the "EU." I hope nobody thinks that people like me will defend the "EU" in time of war. I can't wait to see it destroyed. (The institutions and its buildings, not the people.)
Tony Robinson, Ipswich, England

I think there is a concern of a an Islamic rather than secular Turkey wanting to join the EU. I think Turkey has to adopt more draconian measures to ensure Islam is practised the way Christianity is practised - then maybe their entry could be facilitated.
Philip Shorter, Tonbridge, England

Until Turkey owns up to the Armenian Genocide before and during WW1, they should be flatly refused entry to the EU
Graham, Taunton, UK
Until Turkey owns up to the Armenian Genocide before and during WW1, they should be flatly refused entry to the EU. It was a holocaust nearly on a par with the Jewish Holocaust in WW2 and yet it has been buried completely. Modern day Turks should not be made to pay, but the country's refusal to even recognize the systematic slaughter of millions of innocent people purely due to their ethnicity as genocide, should ensure that they are left out in the cold.
Graham, Taunton, UK

If Turkey can join the EU in return for furthter democratic changes, then the same invitation should be extended to Israel and Palestine. Rather than to depend on US subsidies to fight an endless war, the Jewish state could seek to join a democratic Europe. The same applies to the Palestinians, some of whom are Christians by the way. The Israelis would have to start respecting the rights of minorities and end the occupation.

The Palestinians would have to fight corruption as is asked of the Romanians today. In a democratic setup the use of violence can no longer be accepted. The Palestinians would have to fight terror, even with the help of outside experts. Europe is all about fair, democratic government. Its principals should be extended further. If peace can be brought to the Middle East by resolving the conflict between Israeli and Palestinians, then Europeans rather than Americans would harvest the benefits: trade, prosperity and especially security.
Phil, Antwerp, Belgium

Turkey, with its swiftly developing economy and well educated young dynamic population, may be the engine of Europe in 10 years
Yanki Bagcioglu, Mons, Belgium
No Turkey should not enter the EU. How do you eccept the wolf among the lambs?
Raffi, Iraq

Turkey as the only democratic and secular state with a majority of muslim population, rightly deserves its unique place as a bridge between the west and the east. The question is not Turkey's accession to Europe. Since 1923, under the guidance of Ataturk, Turkey has been following the ideals of the Modern World and confirmed her place in Europe.

Turkey, with its swiftly developing economy and well educated young dynamic population, may be the engine of Europe in 10 years. But at that time, I am sure Turkey will hesitate to accept full membership of this organisation unless honesty and impartiality established among EU mmeber states.
Yanki Bagcioglu, Mons, Belgium

Most of the dissenting comments here are based on xenophobic feelings - irrespective of the dressed-up reasons provided. If we can not put aside our racist attitudes then there is no hope for world peace. We need to lead by example, help Turkey meet the entry criteria and then welcome them with open arms - and start looking for the next member.
Duncan, UK

Now that Turkey has abandoned the Arab world, it is going to join the EU? What happened to Arab Nationalism? The unity of Arabs? Turkey used to be the vanguard. It will now be seen as the traitor of the Middle-East - there is no way it can bridge the gaps between Europe and the Middle-East.
Luma Qadoumi, Montreal, Canada

Turkey cannot be allowed to join the EU until they sort out both their human rights and corruption. Having business dealings with Turkey is like trying to pull your own teeth out with rusty pliers. Everyone is "related", and even official government quotations have to include a kickback figure! No - until they can lever themselves out of the dark ages and into respectability, they should stay outside the EU.
Adam Gale, Gosport, UK

Turkey "is" the bridge; it's not a question of acting
Forrest, Plattsburgh, New York
Turkey "is" the bridge; it's not a question of acting. Turkish entry is the only logical direction for her as for "Western" Europe.
Forrest, Plattsburgh, New York

I think if Turkey joins, that's going to be the end of the EU. And if they do, what does that mean for Cyprus? A EU country is held by force by another EU country: that's crazy.
Anastasio Petrides, Cyprus

I don't know why Turkey is so fond of joining the EU
Hash Lee, Islamabad, Pakistan
I don't know why Turkey is so fond of joining the EU. Being a Muslim country, they should focus more on their relationship with Muslims. Additionally, many Turkish leaders have bluntly stated that the European Union is a predominantly Christian entity, and the Europeans would like to keep it that way. No point for Turkey to put in efforts and resources into a lost cause.
Hash Lee, Islamabad, Pakistan

The Franco-German alliance is more interested in using the EU as neo-colonialists than in expanding free markets. They are allowing entry into a large economic market in exchange for the surrender of part of new members' sovereignty, thereby trying to usurp the economic, military, and political clout of other nations to strengthen there own. This is a new version of colonialism.

This behaviour is out of resentment of the fact that they are no longer as important a nations as they think they should be, and they are falling farther and farther behind. The Alliance will come up with a million reasons why now it's not the time for Turkish membership in the EU, but the real reason is that it would dilute the control on the Alliance.
Doug, Philadelphia,PA

Let's see, Turkey wants to join the EU but refuses to recognise Cyprus and its ethnic cleansing of the Armenians. Some of the EU leaders, such as Blair, are charmed by the Turkish delight (with US pressure), but its citizens are not sold on the idea of lowering the standards for joining the union.
Danny, Toronto, Canada

The EU has never been about equality or fair representation. Just look at the power and representation the smaller France has over the larger more productive Germany. It is a political alliance and Turkey would be treated no better in the process to join. Turkey has far more to gain economically than the EU has to gain diplomatically.
Mark, New York, US

I see the EU as salvation for gays
Cenk, Istanbul
Being a gay man in Turkey, life is pretty hard. We live in the closet. But I see the EU as salvation for gays, because there are no human rights in Turkey and as a gay you are regarded as an animal and have no value. If you say you are gay you cannot find a job. I believe that if we join, we as gays could easily move to EU countries where there are gay rights and gays can marry.
Cenk, Istanbul

As a British citizen currently living abroad, it was with quite some alarm that I remember reading news headlines two years ago suggesting that George Bush was trying to force Europe to admit Turkey to the EU. While I myself am anti-racist and not xenophobic, having lived in both The Netherlands and Germany for a number of years I am well aware of the amount of xenophobia which exists in Europe, particularly in Germany, towards the Turkish immigrant population.

I am also aware of how much unemployment there currently is in Europe and, particularly also in the light of recent events in The Netherlands, I would say firstly that Europe is not ready to assimilate such a poor country of that size, and would warn that it would be almost certain to increase unemployment and, even worse, racism and far-right attitudes across Europe to such an extent that it could easily get out of control.

While I do not wish to be alarmist, I could even imagine a second holcaust, this time against Muslims, and would hope that the powers that be would wake up to such dangers before it is too late.
Peter G Mackie, Nieuwe Niedorp, The Netherlands

Turkey should not join the EU since it's better to be a huge regional power outside the EU and to make her independent policies regardless of the EU or USA.
Hakan Kahraman, Beverley, England

The EU has first got to complete the union with the existing members
Massimo Sereno, Ivrea, Italy
The EU has first got to complete the union with the existing members: a new state, so different from the others, will result in a disaster for the whole union
Massimo Sereno, Ivrea, Italy

Turkey can join EU only after Russia whenever that is. Besides, they have to admit to committing genocide against the Armenians in 1915, then withdraw from Northern Cyprus. And last but not least, take care of a messy human rights record.
Albert , Geneva, CH

It is hard to see what benefits the expansion of the EU brings. Most of the recent inclusions seem to be impoverished former Eastern Block countries. All the talk of "increased opportunities" seems to avoid mention of the expense to which then West Germany had to go to turn former East Germany into an integrated part of their economy. I don't see any "opportunity" for the existing members in admitting Turkey. They bring nothing to the party other than another large, economically challenged country looking for handouts from the "rich" nations.
Andy D, Oxford UK

No Turkey on the menu for Christmas for the French! But who cares┐French demise over the Turks is just the last kick of a dying horse. Turkey, welcome to the EU!
F. Tabe, Manchester, UK

The surest way to European disintegration is by letting Turkey in.
Vagelis Dedoussis, Beirut, Lebanon

The War Crimes against the Armenians, the Kurds and the Cypriots remain unpunished. How can we now reward them with EU membership?
Jack Elvine, Melbourne, Australia. (ex London, UK)
How on Earth did this get so far? The EU does not need Turkey. There are hundreds of reasons why they should not be admitted into the EU. The main reason is this is a country that has contributed nothing to Europe except War Crimes against the Armenians, the Kurds and the Greeks. It has ignored international law and numerous UN resolutions on its continued illegal occupation of Cyprus. It has ignored the European Court to compensate Cypriots (and on other matters).

The War Crimes against the Armenians, the Kurds and the Cypriots remain unpunished. How can we now reward them with EU membership? The politicians who approve Turkey's membership should have their backgrounds checked for bribery, intimdation, blackmail or corruption. What also needs to be checked is the US pressure (threats and intimidation) on some EU countries not to veto Turkey's membership. The US is an economic competitor to Europe and it is only in the interest of the US to allow Turkey into the EU: it would fracture the relative unity in the EU.
Jack Elvine, Melbourne, Australia. (ex London, UK)

No, absolutely not. What the Ottoman Empire could not accomplish militarily to overrun Europe they would be now able to do through emigration. Culturally they do not belong in there. The word European would lose its true meaning, something sacred would forever be gone.
Carlos Borjal, Chicago, Illinois

Personally, I'm betting that the negotiators will find a way to defer the decision to a future date
Mark, USA
As a citizen of a country outside the EU meaning I don't have a dog in this fight, it will be interesting to see which side of the battle has the most political clout at the moment. This major decision point might indicate just which way European politics is likely to go. Personally, I'm betting that the negotiators will find a way to defer the decision to a future date pending further study in typical European fashion to avoid resolving the issue altogether and then congratulating themselves and each other on their wisdom.
Mark, USA

So who's next, Iraq? Egypt? Why not India, since sociogeographical factors seem to be of minor importance to many in this forum. In addition, some of you should be reminded that Turkey refuses to recognise Cyprus, an existing EU member! Isn't that an oxymoron? Of course the list goes on to include: continuing human rights violations, illegal occupation of foreign soil, Armenian genocide, politics dictated by the army, etc. Furthermore, the US strongly supports Turkey's EU membership, something that cannot be good since the US sees Europe as an upcoming competitor. They want to see Europe divide and implode, and Turkey's entry to the EU would mean just that.
Aristides Georgopoulos, Athens, Greece

How can Muslims with a long history of genocide like the Turks be members of the secular EU and still be Muslims, is the question nobody asks or answers!
Gilbert White, London UK

No, absolutely not. What the Ottoman Empire could not accomplish militarily to overrun Europe they would be now able to do through emigration. Culturally they do not belong in there. The word European would lose its true meaning, something sacred would forever be gone.
Carlos Borjal, Chicago, Illinois

It is Turks that deliberately massacred 1.5 million Armenians through systematic genocide
Mark, London
It is Turks that deliberately massacred 1.5 million Armenians through systematic genocide. Turks continue to do this with the Kurds and the discrimination of Christians living in Turkey today. Allowing Turkey into the EU (against the majority opinion of EU residents) would be to associate the EU with that genocide.
Mark, London

No! The EU is big enough already and has lots of problems that need to be sorted out before it gets any bigger. But there's no real reason why there shouldn't be a Middle Eastern equivalent to which Turkey could belong. It is after all 97% in Asia and only 3% in Europe. I'd like to say trading with any such organisation should be linked to democratic government, action on improving human rights and environmental conditions, and education for all, but I'm not quite that naive!
Nik, Exeter, Devon

Europe can surely benefit from having a new face or two in their static society
Ken Roberts, Charlotte, USA
It is somewhat surprising to an American to hear that Europeans are afraid of mixing cultures with the Turks. A lot of hoopla is made in the US about how tolerant the Europeans are, but it seems that for now the true melting pot will stay on this side of the Atlantic. Regardless, I think it would be beneficial to the EU to have Turkey as a member for a number of reasons, most of which have been discussed already. In addition to those, we also cannot forget about the possible benefits that the addition of culturally-rich Turks into old Europe can have. In my view this creates a sort of "cultural competition" that improves the lives and traditions of everyone involved. This is something we experience a lot of in the United States, and I believe that it has made us a much stronger society. Europe can surely benefit from having a new face or two in their static society.
Ken Roberts, Charlotte, USA

Over the years, Turkey has done remarkably well to reform its society. Today it is arguably the most progressive of all the Muslim countries. Surprisingly, an array of cock and a bull reasons are being put forth to deny Turkey an entry into the European Union. Arguments such as a different economy than that of the common market, unsavoury human rights record, time isn┐t ripe yet, fail to make an impression. They merely point to the antipathy towards Turkey because it is predominantly Muslim. Whether this suspicion antedates itself to the days of Ottoman empire or is the part of the current Islamophobia is irrelevant.

The fundamentalist leaders in Muslim nations have always hoodwinked the impressionable people by telling them that the westerners have an intense dislike for them. If Turkey is denied entry in the EU, it will only vindicate theirs false teachings and would perpetrate the hostility. On the contrary, if Turkey is accepted, a clear signal can be sent to the Islamic nations about the benefits of being a reformist and a liberal nation.

The world has nearly missed a golden opportunity in Iran. Had Mohammad Khatami received appropriate support for his liberal programmes from international community, the Iranian fundamentalists wouldn┐t have reared their heads. Unfortunately, the world (especially the US) could never get over its inherent mistrust. It is vital not to commit the same mistake again.
Dinker Vashisht, Chandigarh, India

Wait 20 years and then see, integrating the 10 new members is difficult enough as it is
Phil, Colchester
I am currently studying Human Rights as part of my postgrad and all we see are violations from Turkey. On paper, their legal system is acceptable, but no-one enforces it and it's riddled with corruption, torture and mysogyny. Turkey can implement all the laws it wants, but the attitude of its citizens will not change overnight. We've fought too hard for democracy, let's not defenestrate it. It won't acknowledge the genocide in Armenia nor the arbitrary killings of Kurds (as well as its own citizens). If Turkey were smaller, its accession would not be so significant, but with 64m people, it can only bring us trouble in the short-term. Wait 20 years and then see, integrating the 10 new members is difficult enough as it is. Leaders only think of economic gains, it's time to assess the geopolitical side now.
Phil, Colchester

Much is made of how Turkish membership of the EU will light a beacon of modernity to neutralise Islamic fundamentalism. It is unlikely that AL-Qaeda or Hamas or other groups will somehow change tact just because Turkey is in the EU. Turkey is not part of the Arab world, so its influence there is limited; indeed many Arab countries regard Turkey with suspicion. Turkey is a member of NATO and has hosted Eurovision - is that going to prevent disenchantment among Arab youths? I doubt it. Turkish membership of the EU should be barred just because Turkey is Muslim. Equally the EU cannot admit Turkey purely because she is a Muslim country either.

The EU is a secular political body, and in turn it must assess Turkey on totally secular criteria. It is not enough just for Turkey to claim she is a modern Muslim country. Secularism is only the starting point. The real question is whether Turkey has the modernity to feel at ease with European liberal democratic ideals (as opposed to hastily conducted reforms at the last minute). Anything else, including romantic talk of bridges to between West and East, is irrelevant.
Nick Biskinis, UK

Why not? The rest of the members are all turkeys. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck. Have a sense of humor, Europe.
Steve, Wall, NJ, USA

Leaders meet over Turkish EU bid
14 Dec 04 |  UK Politics


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