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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Should Turkey join the EU?
Jack Straw and Abdullah Gul
Should Turkey be admitted to the European Union?

Eighteen years after it first applied to join the European Union, Turkey has been allowed to open formal negotiations on becoming a member.

The turning point came when Austria withdrew its demand that Turkey be offered an option short of full membership - a possibility flatly rejected by Turkey.

However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned that Turkey's entry into the EU is neither "guaranteed, nor automatic".

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

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

BBC correspondent Paul Adams put your questions to Turkish businesswoman, Mutlu Alkan.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Shan, England UK
Should Turkey be part of the EU?

I am an economist and a political scientist, and in my honest opinion, I see Turkey with full European Union membership as an economic and political asset rather than liability. The EU should have taken in Turkey in years ago and its beneficial impact to the union could have also affected the growth of entire world economies.
Alex Montezon, Fond Du Lac, USA

Turkey is not Europe. There are no geographical, historical, cultural, religious, or whatever other grounds to admit Turkey membership to the EU. Austria's objection should be applauded, since it simply is in line with the opinion of the majority of its people. The other EU governments are given a lesson in democracy.
Walter Cools, London, UK

If you believe Turkey will be a burden on EU somebody please explain to us Americans how Greece, Lithuania or even Poland has ever contributed to the economical wealth of the EU.
Dale, New York City, US

In the run up to the beginning of membership talks with Turkey, the behaviour of the Austrian government has been nothing short of outrageous. For a country to be using its position within the EU to jeopardize the economic and political future of a candidate country is absolutely unforgivable and the fact that this seems to represent an attempt by the Austrian chancellor in government to enhance his electoral standing prior to upcoming elections does not make it any less so.
Helen Smith, Philadelphia, USA

Turkey should be allowed to enter the EU. While some rule changes are necessary regarding immigration, the issue of immigration should not keep Turkey out. Also on the issue of Cyprus, Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots supporter the UN plan. Only the Greek Cypriots rejected it. Why should Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots be punished for voting yes to peace?
Griffin Gasink, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Not only will Turkey's membership to the EU cause a clash of political and social ideologies, but will in turn cause stack divisions within the European Union. Even if Turkey is to adhere to the reforms being put forward, the very fabric of Turkish society is very contrasting to that of Europe. This I fear might cause rifts within the Union. Still I believe a European Turkey is inevitable and is a sign of the times that we are moving to - one global order.
Bosun, New York/Lagos, USA/Nigeria

Western Europe needs as diverse a membership as possible
Robin Budhu, London, England
Turkey should definitely be allowed to join the EU, as Western Europe needs as diverse a membership as possible in order to survive growing competition from Asia.
Robin Budhu, London, England

Absolutely not. They have nothing in common with Europe, why is everyone so keen on blurring the lines on what it is to be European? We should be proud of our culture and they of theirs, that is not to say there should not be good relations with Turkey and trade etc. Will China join next?
John, Texas, USA

As a Greek American I would love to see the EU to welcome Turkey to the Union. It's a positive step and brings a lot of benefits for the democratisation of the rest of the Middle Eastern Republics. Cyprus should not be a step backwards or a step forwards. A solution should be fast and fair. Turkish people should cherish this unification. Justice, freedom and minority rights should prevail in this country. Turkey belongs to EU.
Tony Karlatiras, Chicago,IL,,USA

This is a done deal. Can you imagine any other outcome? Once the Turks show improvement in their human rights record, give equality to the Kurds, and allow Cyprus to unite, the go-ahead will be given. It's not about culture or geography. It's about playing nice with your citizens. France is becoming more irrelevant by the day.
Chris, US

Before Turkey joins the EU, Israel should join the Arab League!
Kenneth Ingle, Bielefeld, Germany

I still don't understand why my country's politicians insist on joining the EU
Arzu, Istanbul, Turkey
Unfortunately negotiations have started. Oh my God, It is impossible for us to get rid of this issue. It will last forever. I still don't understand why my country's politicians insist on joining the EU. I cannot see any good benefit we can get. Turkey should wake up and route her way by herself. No need of third party instructions.
Arzu, Istanbul, Turkey

Culturally, ethnically and politically Turkey is not compatible with Europe. They are an Asian nation with much to offer in a partnership, so what's wrong with having a working partnership? There are large parts of Turkey and whole ethnic groups within Turkey who would not and do not want to become 'European' and no amount of cajoling or even force is going to change that.
Kathleen Carroll, New York, NY

Bush is blackmailing the EU to let Turkey join
Brian, Spain
No. Apart from the reasons stated here, there is another very important one. Bush is blackmailing the EU to let Turkey join. Bush/Rice forced Austria to drop its objections while only 10% of Austrians are in favour. Everything Bush wants is bad for everybody except Bush. That in itself must be a reason for the people of Europe to say NO.
Brian, Spain

I believe that's a great decision the EU made on 3 October, and I believe that it will help world peace and the EU will have much power and a very strong economy. We are all the same - why should Turkey not join the EU?
Mehmet, Istanbul, Turkey

It will be a complete disaster not only for Europe, but for America too, as the Islamic countries will make Turkey an easy passage for the illegal immigration of fanatic Islamists. If cheap labour is the problem in Europe, the Chinese and Hindu Indians will not only work hard, they don't have the fanatic dream of converting europe into a Islamic world. So Europe must say a stern no to Turkey.
Joe Devasunder, Newmarket, Canada

I will even take Mexico but not Turkey. At least Mexico has tequila and good enchiladas!
Linda Butler, Belfast

Turkey blaming the EU for being a Christian club! What a nonsense! There is not a single European country whose population is 99% Christian, while Turkey is 99% Muslim. Pot calling the kettle black. Turkey has never been European and will never be.
Galena Foxall, Montreal, Canada

Yes Turkey should join the EU. Germany's cuisine will no doubt improve (how could it get worse?) although I'm afraid that priced in Euros, doner kebabs will become too expensive.
M. M. Zaman, UK/US

Turkey is a country which has got its ethnicity, an open-minded and disciplined culture, with beautiful people, with a history of welcoming many civilisations - it is better off where it is rather than joining.
Nur, UK

Turkey clearly isn't European and would suddenly become the largest European country. The whole thing's nonsense, of course it shouldn't join. That doesn't mean we shouldn't enjoy great relations with Turkey; on the contrary, we should celebrate and maintain our differences.
Al Johnson, London, UK

Turkey was home and is still home to Christians and Jews
Suzan, London
I can understand the political reasons given here against Turkey's admission to the EU, but cultural reasons are just unfair. The Ottoman Empire was one of the first examples of multiculturalism. Turkish people have lived with various ethnic groups through out Turkey for centuries. Discriminating against religion is unfair too. Turkey was home and is still home to Christians and Jews. Our Greek friends should at least acknowledge this. European multiculturalism, where did it come from? We should all do some homework! Turkey has waited for 40 years. It should be part of EU. Most people do not seem to realise, EU will not be able to cope with the rising economical powers of China and India. EU needs Turkey.
Suzan, London

Not only should Turkey join the EU but the doors should then logically be opened to Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and a host of nations on the borders of the EU.
Gordon Hickley, Melbourne, Australia

Let's read the book the other way around and think "what happens if Turkey is not accepted".
Bruno Macci, Alexandria, Virginia

Wow, this has been going on so long with any real progress, despite the UK's backing for Turkey's membership. It seems the EU will continue to find areas which Turkey needs to improve on. This could take forever. Turkey needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
Bilal Sultan, New York, USA

Turkey deserve the truth: i.e. that it will never e admitted. Everyone knows that. It is high time someone tells it for good. The UE no longer needs enlargement, but stronger cooperation.
Bertrand, Paris, France

Are we going to extend the EU membership to Iran, Syria and Libya next?
John Tsigarides, Torquay, Britain
Turkey should not be permitted full membership to the EU, rather a "Special Partnership". Turkey is in Asia, not Europe. Are we going to extend the EU membership to Iran, Syria and Libya next? And along with the Cyprus problem, human rights and the rest of Turkey's problems, does Europe want Turkey in the EU?
John Tsigarides, Torquay, Britain

There is no empire in the history of the world that survived a mix of such different cultures. I understand concerns of significant part of Europeans that Turkey is very big and Muslim country for candidacy. European democracy as it right now, may not be ready for Muslim country. Unless a significant majority of Europe is ready, I would say it is premature offering membership to Turkey. Some say that Europe should keep its word, my question is: should we, even it may hurt existing members and citizens? I doubt so. Look to the United States and see how they struggle with their diversity.
Philip, Riga, Latvia

Turkey shouldn't be offered any kind of EU membership because currently it is still keeping occupied an EU country, Cyprus by military force, the Turkish government doesn't recognise it at all as an independent state, besides many authorities of Turkey particularly in the Eastern parts still don't respect the human rights especially those of the minorities. All these things prove that Turkey is not a country of classic European standards.
Mario Ale, New York, USA

Maybe the EU doesn't have the stomach to end the potential "clash of civilizations". However that doesn't mean Turkey doesn't. With or without Europe Turkey will play the role bridging East and West. Turkey has given the option to Europe to end xenophobia and racism, however maybe Russia and the former Soviet States (mostly Turkic by the way) may end this senseless division of East and West. What the EU can't do, Turkey will
Deniz Celik, Montreal Canada

Europe needs Turkey. Having lived there, it becomes obvious that in order for the world to veer off of its course towards polarisation, steps of understanding must be taken. This is a chance. It is a country that has a long way to go, yet has come even farther. The government backing of dialogue on the Armenian issue shows the motivation that this country has. They are the bridge to understanding, and this bridge is becoming ready for use. But when shall it open?
Geoff, Montreal, Canada

I just don't understand why they would want to join a massive, undemocratic nightmare like the EU anyway. It's an expensive way for our 'elite' politicians to rob us all and feather their own nests.
Chris, UK

Europe must end somewhere and Turkey is an excellent place for it to end
Anastassios, San Francisco, California, USA
The Muslim populations of Europe have not integrated with their host communities after many decades. What makes anybody believe that the accession of Turkey would create any better understanding of Europe with the Muslim world? This notion is a non-starter. Europe must end somewhere and Turkey is an excellent place for it to end. Despite talk of secularization of Turkish society, fundamentalism and anti-western tendencies are on the rise and the current party in power actually represents this trend. More Muslim fundamentalists in Europe? I think not.
Anastassios, San Francisco, California, USA

Fact is we would happily allow Turkish entry despite its social and other problems if it were as rich as say Norway, so let's not beat about the bush! We are just fed up of all "poor" eastern neighbours wanting to join, which keeps Norway and Switzerland aloof. And the fact that Turkey doesn't believe in the fundamental democratic principles, otherwise it would have cleaned up it's constitution long time ago (membership wish since 1960), not just now to please the EU! Thanks staunch Nato partner Turkey but we also need a staunch believer of our principles to the iota embedded in each and every "Anatolian peasant", then you may join and even lead us on a new course.
Kailas Ahders, Germany

For all those who oppose Turkish membership of the EU on the grounds of popular opposition (itself rooted in widespread prejudice) - I have but one question. Were the majority of people in a particular society to approve of racial or religious discrimination, would that justify such behaviour? The answer ought to be clear to any thinking mind.
Charlotte Atkinson, New York City

Turkey is not a European country. It belongs in the Middle East by any cultural, geographical, ethnic or religious definition. Austria is absolutely right to oppose Turkish membership and it is a shameful disgrace that the UK government seems to be using this issue as a political tool by which to appease its own restive Muslim population.
Mark La Vardera, Bracknell, UK

I'm Turkish myself; I don't think that we should join the EU. We should strengthen our alliance with the USA and start doing more business with Russia, China and former soviet (Turkic) republics and Middle Eastern countries, and definitely not recognize the republic of Cyprus. Furthermore we should keep our military there so it can protect Turkish people in the KIBRIS.
Dino Hasani, Madison,Wi, USA

If Turkey meets whatever criteria the EU has decided any country must meet in order to join the EU then it should be accepted. It is then up to its government to decide if it wants to ballot its people on the subject. Where does religion come in to it?
Rod, Newhaven UK

On the radio an opposition MP in Turkey stated that he thought the EU proposals should have been discussed in parliament before agreement. An early taste of how the EU does things then; parliament bypassed.
Jim Kirk, Tottenham UK

It will be a dramatic defeat for the European project if Turkey is allowed to join. It has been said that politicians are not in touch with the people of Europe. And after the no in the referendum in France and Holland, these very same politicians go ahead against the wishes of the huge majority of the people in most countries.
F. Q. Salvado, London

This is a massive step forward for the EU
Chris Davis, Birmingham, UK
This is a massive step forward for the EU. For those sceptical due to historical altercations between the Turkish/Ottomans and the rest of Europe, can I remind you of the wars between countries within Europe? The very fact that since member nations have joined the EU, there have been no wars between them. As well as this, Turkey is a growing economy, and a larger EU Bloc to counteract the growing economies of India and China can only be a good thing, surely?
Chris Davis, Birmingham, UK

I was once a very pro-EU person but time after time I see the EU politicians ignore public opinion. Virtually all countries in the EU have the majority of the population against Turkey joining - and yet it still goes ahead!
Paul, UK

I want to laugh when I hear that Turkey is in Europe or not. My ancestors and yours used to live together for many years in peace and wealth. We brought many things to Europe when the first Muslims stepped on Europe's soil. Please read the history and then decide. In ten years time maybe Turkey won't want to be a part of EU.
Murat, Turkey

Nobody on either side of the negotiations are in doubt what changes must happen in Turkey and what the country must achieve in many fields before membership can be a reality. When that has happened, Turkey can be a true asset in the EU in economic, geopolitic and demographic terms. Imagine the potential of a long, sustained high-rate economic growth in Turkey. And imagine what effect a rich, well developed Turkey may have on the neighbouring Middle East. Reaching for such a scenario may well be the EU's greatest chance to change the political and economic situation in the world for the better since the change it brought about by its foundation.
Casper Thorning, Pittsburgh and Stockholm

I agree with Austria in that Turkey should be offered only a privileged partnership with the EU. If that works over time, them I am sure that Turkey will eventually become a full EU member. As an EU citizen, I have serious reservations about further enlargement of the EU - it's all happening too much too fast. There is so much that still needs to be done in the existing EU member countries before we can move on and integrate a nation so different and numerous in numbers.
Rogerio Domingos, Lisboa, Portugal

Yes, I think Turkey should join. For over 1,000 years it has played an important role in European geopolitics. It straddles the Europe/Asia divide, but that just makes it all the more important that they should join. Turkey can act as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East; it might not have done before, but then, a lot of things are happening in the EU that have never happened before (like 60 years of peace, for example).
John, Leeds, UK

What does the EU get in return? All I see is the West having a military gateway to the Middle East, and the taxpayers having to foot the bill to bring Turkey up to the 21st Century. What exactly does Turkey bring to the table?
Miles Davies, Surrey, UK

For centuries Turkey and the Ottoman Empire have been part of the European political constellation. Even today it would add significantly to the weight of the EU in the world and giving us a stepping stone in the Middle East. So yes bring them in!
Thomas Billiouw, Ghent, Belgium

No. Turkey must never be allowed into the EU. First of all, on my map Turkey is in Asia and just happens to still occupy a very small part of Europe, and half of another EU country. The regions of Europe that were under Ottoman rule are still riddled with conflict and violence. The guardians of Turkish "democratic secularism" are the army, hardly the sign of a stable system where power is derived by the consent of the people! Turkey is also incapable of being a broker to the Middle East as they are still hated as an old colonial oppressor by many, and still fulfil this role on the Kurdish people. This is just a case of the Americans trying to dump their foreign responsibilities on to an unwilling Europe, to make up to the Muslims for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Luke Rogers, Gloucester, England

Turkey is trying to be what it is not, a western secular country
Spak Shah, Austin, TX
Turkey should stay out EU, which is going to become meaningless in a few years anyway. Turkey is trying to be what it is not, a western secular country. Instead Turkey should recognize its cultural roots and look eastwards for acceptance and friends.
Spak Shah, Austin, TX

Turkey should be allowed to join if and when she meets the required EU standards. Admittedly, this will take years. However, the pseudo-proud attitude that Turkey has adopted does not help. It is crystal clear that the Turks want badly to join, so the diplomacy of "we want our pie and eat it too" harms only Turkey's accession and no one else.
Vasileios, Boston, USA

How can Turkey join the EU if it does not even accept the terms of the organization? How can they join if they do not recognize Cyprus? Turkey has not even tried to accept the wrongs and become a mature nation by recognizing the pogroms against Greeks and Armenians in 1955 and the Armenian Holocaust. Germany has recognized its wrongs and look at its status in the EU and the world. As long as Turkey is in denial about its own origins and stubbornly nationalistic and ethnocentric, then I find it hard for them to even succeed in joining the EU.
John, NYC

I would love to see Turkey join the EU. Of course, there are potential economic problems, but there will be time to address them. I find it very sad that we have left Turks feeling so badly treated by us when they themselves are so hospitable as a nation. Yes, there are hum an rights problems, but they have worked very hard on these, and entry to the EU would encourage them to keep going in the same direction, not say 'Forget it, let's go down the Iran route, it's the only way to get respect from the West.'
Sara, Edinburgh, Scotland

Turkey will be a bridge between the West and the East
Hakan Eken, Adana, Turkey
Turkey will be a bridge between the West and the East. The EU should always keep this in mind and not lose this opportunity to reach out the middle east.
Hakan Eken, Adana, Turkey

Yes we have a bad human rights record, yes our living standards and economy are all poor, and yes Kurds are second class citizens in Turkey. But the important thing is, we are trying to improve in these areas, and the incentive of EU membership is making us improve.
Husnu, London, UK (Turkish)

It is inconceivable that a country can join into a partnership with other countries without recognising all of the other partners.
J Turnbull, Paphos, Cyprus

What happened to democracy in Europe? The majority of Europeans don't want Turkey as a member of the EU (see the Eurobarometer Surveys). Nevertheless, we see the European technocrats and their political masters doing just the opposite. Do they think that they are a new aristocracy and that they know it better than the average European citizen? I thought that paternalism was a thing of the past. Perhaps it has appeared again because there is too little democratic control on the level of the European Union.
L. Karremans, Brussels, Belgium

When Turkey sorts its human rights violations out and brings itself out of the 19th century and can contribute on a financial level on a par with other EU countries then yes. Until then no.
Tony, UK

From what little I can remember from previous opposition to Turkey joining the EU; their record on human rights and the fear of easy access to Europe of illegal immigrants were two that come to mind. The latter is especially worrying regarding the present terror threat. These matters should be voiced strongly and monitoring of Turkey imposed. If this was agreed and practical means of doing so put in place there should be no reason why Turkey should not join the European Union.
Chris Grice, Walsall

A special partnership with Turkey is the best choice
Petros, Athens, Greece
A special partnership with Turkey is the best choice. Why should we have a "forced marriage" since the vast majority of the European people reject full membership? Also why a country that does not belong to the European continent and does not share its culture should be allowed to join?
Petros, Athens, Greece

Turkey is a great country and should be allowed into the EU as soon as is possible. However as the EU is on the verge of collapsing under its own incompetence this will have to wait until the EU can sort itself out.
Tom, Harlow, UK

Turkey should join the EU, most definitely. By being on equal terms, without a scratch on its honour and dignity. Second class status is an insult and it should not be accepted under any circumstances.
H Bhatty, Birmingham, UK

Turkey does not belong to Europe. If one says that Turkey is a European state, it would be just equal to say that Spain is an African state, while it has a small enclave in Morocco. Turkey is geographically and culturally an Asiatic country.
Joseph Galea, Zabbar, Malta

Turkey has worked hard to meet entry criteria and will continue to do so. The solution to any difficulties, such as Cyprus, and Kurdish cultural issues are more likely to be resolved within EU membership than out with EU membership. Europe and the EU is what we make it. It's sad to see so much avarice, bile and barely concealed racism dressed up as bad geography.
James Scobbie, Scotland

I think Turkey should be allowed to join the EU because it would be the first bit of the Arab world to join the European Union.
Christopher Chinn (aged 5), Portishead, UK

It is unreasonable to continue to rule out the full membership of Turkey
Masayuki Katori, Nerima, Japan
If Turkey could recognize Greek Cyprus and satisfy the accession criteria of the EU, it is unreasonable to continue to rule out the full membership of Turkey from the logical point of view. In the long run, it must be a good opportunity to change Turkey to be a good sample of a democratised Muslim country, which could eventually have great benefits to the EU.
Masayuki Katori, Nerima, Japan

Having just been on a 15 day tour around the whole of Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon, Erzurum, Diyarbakir and Antalya) I believe apart from the two capitals the rest of Turkey is so distant in comparison to all other present members of the EU. Inflation runs at 75% a year compared to an average of 6% for all other EU members.
Emma Fletcher, London, UK

No, but I would welcome Russia as a member of the EU.
Maurice, Oxford, England

Yes. Turkey would be a breath of fresh air into the existing super rich club of pampered and inward looking individuals. It is not in Turkey's interests to be integrated into this group. They should join their friends who respect them in a separate grouping. They should join the APEC nations, alongside the US, Canada, Australia and NZ.
Peter, Edinburgh

I think that we should embrace Turkish membership of the EU, but only once it has demonstrated that it shares Western European values in the areas of democracy, human rights, women's rights and probity in public life. Any state that shares these values should be admitted - the EU can become a cultural/economic entity rather than being strictly geographic one. This would be a great force for harmony in the world.
Jan, Reading, UK

I strongly support admission of Turkey to the EU. I have always found Turkish people to be decent, honourable, and friendly. If these characteristics are somehow incompatible with central European culture, it seems to me that culture needs to change.
Charles Williams, West Mersea, UK

Turkey has not yet implemented religious freedom for all
Christopher S Ttofi, Newington, CT, USA
Turkey should not be allowed to join the EU until it removes its 35,000 occupying troops from Cyprus. It must grant full religious freedom to the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, including reopening the seminary in Halki. Turkey has not yet implemented religious freedom for all. The EU must stop behaving cowardly and caving in to American and British pressure.
Christopher S Ttofi, Newington, CT, USA

Yes - eventually. I believe it is inevitable Turkey will join the EU. The heated words from both European and Turkish politicians are an indicator of some tough bargaining occurring rather than a move away from Turkey's eventual inclusion. This is not to pretend there are not impediments such as Turkey's recognition of Cyprus and a continuing drive to democratise and modernise. My money is on mutual benefit prevailing over the historical and religious baggage both sides bring to the equation.
Peter Sargood, Melbourne, Australia

Membership negotiations will be long. Many conditions will be set forth. Most of these conditions will not be tolerable. I believe that there should be a referendum in Turkey for EU membership as soon as possible, before any of the conditions are accepted. I believe that Turkey should not be part of EU and keep its own identity and independence.
Dicle, Istanbul

Turkey, which is clearly geographically, politically, culturally and ethnically not European, would be out of place within the EU. The EU is already far too large and is in danger of grinding to a shuddering halt under the weight and cost of its administration. It will not need Turkey to achieve that!
Ian Olive, Moutardon, France

It will be fun to watch who will need the other in 10-15 years
Jack, Virginia, USA
Europeans who underestimate the potential in Turkey should first go and see the country and get rid of their prejudices to form a better informed opinion. It will be fun to watch who will need the other in 10-15 years. You bet! The EU will have to admit Turkey at the time, and if Europe's economic performance doesn't improve in the meanwhile, then it will be Turkey who will have to think twice before accepting the offer.
Jack, Virginia, USA

How big does Europe have to be. Their education system do not have the same standards as western Europe. So what will it bring, cheap labour, which is will be beneficial for employers. Poor Joe Blogs of the west will be left behind in poverty. Is this what our forefathers wanted for us?
Chris, Almere, The Netherlands

All those who talk about millions of Turks could come and live in Western Europe forget that it would also mean the opposite. It's rather arrogant assume that millions of Turks would rather live in "our" country. The moment Turkey joins the EU, thousands of Europeans will be over there buying up cheap property and pricing Turks out of the market.
John F, Oxford UK

I am very worried about the indiscriminate expansion of the EU. It was difficult enough to run a few years ago, and some of the countries that are being allowed in now are hardly going to stabilise a fragile balance. Up until a couple of years ago I had been able to make some sort of sense of the EU, but the recent developments leave me bewildered. As criticism of the EU is growing, could this be a deliberate attempt to grow the beast to a size where it's too big to be killed?
Ed Karten, London, UK

I am somewhat ashamed of but not surprised about the majority of my fellow Austrians opposing Turkish accession to the EU. Being in the EU for 10 years and doing rather well, Austrians are now fairly negative towards any more 'poor' countries joining the EU (with the exception of Croatia). Could that be selfishness? In any case, not even being prepared to speak with Turkey about a possible accession would have been a serious strategic mistake with negative consequences for the EU - and for my fellow Austrians.
Franz Cermak, Vienna, Austria

The future of Europe can only be through truly embracing Unity in Diversity. Bringing East and West closer to work and live in harmony should be every sane person's hope for a peaceful world
Charlotte Riding, Edinburgh, UK

It is culturally, geographically and politically outside Europe
Richard Allen, Reigate UK
I'm a supporter of the EU, but I don't believe Turkey is part of Europe. It is culturally, geographically and politically outside Europe. There it should stay.
Richard Allen, Reigate UK

Only a very, very small part of Turkey is in Europe. It is not a European country, it's culture has nothing in common with the rest of Europe. If Turkey joins the EC there will be mass migration, predominantly to London. Our economy and culture is being undermined. No Turkey should not be granted admission. It's bad enough that we have to accept the Baltic states.
Ian Bewick, London UK

The answer is Yes. In 1997 EU said "No" to Turkey and Turkey accepted it. In Helsinki it was EU who invited Turkey. They promised that Cyprus case will not be a condition and that Turkey will be an equal candidate. Last year they decided the same. Now with no self respect, some of them want to change their minds. And the strange thing is that on the European media, again Turkey is accused by being "not knowing the European way of discussion". Does this mean "to give promises and change it" Even the pro-European Turks started to get angry.
Pekesen, Lahti-Finland

Question: How can Turkey even be considered for entry if a majority of EU citizens disagree with granting full membership? Answer; The US wants it in because it will offset the pinch the US Administration is feeling in Europe vis a vis its foreign policy.
Andrew Dowling, Dublin, Ireland

Turkey deserves EU and EU deserves Turkey. However, both sides should ensure a fair play and EU approach towards Turkey should be similar as it was for all other candidates. Thanks to Britain, which seem to be the only EU country with consistent policies.
Rauf, Baku, Azerbaijan

I would rather Turkey to partner up with Russia, Kazakhistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan for Eurasian Community. Russia and Central Asia have all the natural resources. Turkey has the economic/political strategic advantages. Excellent partnership. Christian Europe or Muslim Middle East are not as good as alternative for Turks than Euroasia.
Khan Lopez, Canada

The bridges of racism, separation and discrimination should be defeated. Turkey should join whatever they want to.
X, South Africa

No, Turkey should not be a full member or the EU. Turkey is not part of Europe and the cultural rift between EU countries and Turkey is too wide. The EU should be honest and clear when negotiating with Turkey and tell them that a full membership is not applicable.
D. Engelhardt, Frankfurt, Germany

Only a small part of Turkey in European, geographically and population wise. If Turkey is to join the EU, then so should countries like Morocco and Tunisia's candidature be considered. I think it is time for Brussels to determine a territory beyond which the EU cannot extend.
Alain Hernu, Andresy, France

Of course Turkey should be allowed to join if they have met the conditions of membership
Chris, UK
Of course Turkey should be allowed to join if they have met the conditions of membership. Why Turkey want to join is a mystery though, the EU is a non-democratic dinosaur created to satisfy France and Germany's dreams of power.
Chris, UK

Totally no way at all. They are a world apart and would only add petrol to the bonfire of Euroscepticism. Here once again Blair blowing off about Britain being pro Turkey entering when a referendum would give a clear NO.
Elena Beesley, Northumbria

I agree that the country should join but not until their human right issues are addressed first.
Laura, Kent, UK

Since Turkey has fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria, there are not much rational reasons left behind to oppose Turkey's membership, therefore, my answer is yes, from the EU's point of view. But Turkey's decision to this question should be based on whether the EU is sincere on its principles. The manner the EU will conduct the membership negotiations will be an indicator of whether the EU is sincere about its principles it imposes on Turkey, such as discrimination based on religion or ethnicity. Offers like "half membership" are perceived as not only discrimination, but also insult against the Turkish people and creating emotional reactions within them. Turkey has completed its sincerity test successfully, fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria. Now, it is the EU's turn to deliver on its promises to Turkey.
Aykut Uzdiyem, Basingstoke, UK

The real question here is why Austria is delaying the negotiations. The Austrians have rather a stuck up attitude to any foreigners, including their neighbours. It is interesting to note that only Austria (and Germany) are enforcing the labour restrictions on their new EU neighbours. It looks to me like just nationalism and local politics rather than anything to do with Turkey per se!
Anonymous, Austria

It really doesn't matter how many backward third world despotisms join the EU - as long as one country, Britain, gets out. Let's get this corrupt bureaucratic dinosaur off our backs forever.
Simon, London

Should Turkey join or not? I am tired of this question. I am also tired of broken promises by the EU. It is not acceptable to agree to start negotiations with Turkey a year ago, and change your mind when the day comes. What was Austria thinking back then when it agreed to the start of talks? This is not some sort of joke whereby you can change your mind as you wish.
Ipek Ruacan, Ankara, Turkey

Turkey should not join the EU until such time that it has not shown full implementation of a number of key improvements and changes: improvement of human rights record, real power shift to the elected government vs the military establishment, recognition of Cyprus, rights to its minorities (Kurds) and recognition and compensation for the Armenian genocide. If none of the above is done, how can Turkey claim that it has European values?
Vatche Iskedjian, Pickering, Ontario, Canada

Reading all the comments which are very much against Turkey joining the EU due to it's supposed radically different ideals and culture, it makes me wonder how many of these people have actually been to Turkey and known Turkish people. I lived in Turkey for a little over a year and met many well-educated, ambitious people who could contribute much to the EU. Of course, there are sections of society that are more traditional and have different priorities to "western" Europe but this is only part of Turkey and should be embraced rather than criticised
Helen, Edinburgh, Scotland

This is the time for Europe to decide where they would like to be at the end of this century? How to support their social system with an aging population with low birth rate? Turkey has the potential to carry the load with its young and vibrant society. Do not think about today, think about the future. One way or the other, Turkey will stay Europe's bad neighbour or an good insider. Human rights, free speech and minority rights are always Europe's pride. But they never went beyond cheap talks. It is time to act - not talk- when you have a chance to correct something you think is wrong.
Tim Ozugur, Dallas, USA

I have many Turkish friends who are probably more in tune with what the country's feelings are than UK speculation. Their view? Whilst they appreciate the "side benefits" of improved human rights why would we want to the EU merely to subsidise the old/lazy population in the West!
David, Portsmouth Hants

Turkey should never be able to join the EU. Culturally and religiously it shares nothing with Western Europe. I was there on holiday in July for the first time and not once did I feel I was on European soil. It was no different from when I travelled to Dubai. Turkey is very Middle Eastern and has a very different value and belief system. It would be impossible for her to fully integrate and it would only lead to millions of Turks fleeing her borders to reach the West which helps no one in the end.
Tylie McGraw, Manchester, UK

To exclude Turkey from full membership now would be a foolish betrayal. The thought of doing this is entertained only on the grounds of snobbery and self-interest. If we want a more prosperous and stable world, we mustn't renege on our promise.
Susan, Wokingham, UK

I've been stationed in Turkey for 7 years. I strongly disagree that Turkey should join the EU. Primary reason is because it is not even in Europe! Who is next, Israel, Morocco? Let's be brutally honest here, can the EU take an influx of 10 or 20 million workers? I think not. Can the EU economy deal with the Turkish? I don't think so. If Turkey gets into the EU, it'll be a huge mess economically and politically.
Desmond, USA

I think the country deserves a fair chance
Daniela, Berlin, Germany
Turkey has tried to "join the club" for 80 years. It's still far from perfect but Turkey is trying and I think the country deserves a fair chance. EU membership would not be easy as we have huge Turkish migrant populations within the EU already. (500 thousand in Berlin alone). Many Kurds apply for political asylum here and the problems with the Kurdish minority in Turkey is now also a problem in the rest of Europe. However, I believe that EU membership might speed up the progress that has already been made by Turkey.
Daniela, Berlin, Germany

I note that apart from France and Austria, it is mainly new member states that are most against Turkish membership. Maybe they have the most to lose. However, from living in a new EU country, I conclude that people there do not see Turkey as part of Europe. In Poland, Slovakia etc, people there have a very clear cut idea of what it is to be European. And that means being white and Christian.
Rich, Edinburgh

The EU is too big as it is and with so many countries now being involved, it has lost its way and the only people who really benefit are the political classes. The EU needs to be reined back so that it is just a trading block. This would then be suitable for all, Turkey would be welcome and we'd save billions on the bloated bureaucracy that is currently in place. But that won't happen because the MEPs would lose their gravy train and they are not going to vote for that are they?
Simon, London

Turkey should become a full European member. Europe is supposed to be a union of countries to share trade and work as one union. Regardless of the country's religion they are as much European as Malta, Greece and Cyprus. It's ludicrous to believe if they join they will emigrate across the EU. Did this happen drastically with countries like Lithuania and Latvia? Turkey has much more to offer than most other countries in the region, what did Latvia bring? Turkey can bridge the Middle East with the West and bring a young, modern, people to Europe. Turkey should be in 100% yes
Keren Emirali, London, UK

Joining the EU, as with joining any club, group or affiliation, is subject to you meeting the joining criteria. This is also usually accompanied by a "trial" period prior to new membership. So what's different here - Turkey if you don't want to adhere to the rules, that fine, but then you can't join....
Grant, London

The reforms that Turkey has undertaken are good for the Turkish people whether they join the EU or not
Ali, Toronto, Canada
The reforms that Turkey has undertaken are good for the Turkish people whether they join the EU or not. They should not be seen as bending over backwards to satisfy the Europeans, but as taking necessary steps towards establishing an open society that is admired by many in the Middle East. They should continue this path and accept the EU offer only when there is no opposition
Ali, Toronto, Canada

I am all for the EU admitting Turkey into its family, but this will take time as the EU is not only an economic union but a cultural one. Continental Europeans, apart from the numerous conflicts between each other share a common culture based on some fundamental and universal principles, such as the separation between church and state, emancipation of women and sexuality, human rights freedom. I'm sure Turkey will join, it's just a matter of when they as a people are ready to accept what the EU is about.
Goran, Australia

For all those Americans who seem to think it's a great idea to place Turkey within the heart of Europe. When exactly is Mexico becoming part of the United States?
Craig, UK

The only reason that governments like the British want Turkey to join the EU is so that they can take advantage of a large influx of cheap labour to the UK. This will not benefit UK workers, especially the less well off. It has nothing to do with 'bridging the gap' between Europe and the Islamic world and it is not xenophobic to oppose it.
Julie Henderson, UK

As a Cypriot that hopes for the reunification of Cyprus I support Turkish accession. It can only help agree a settlement in Cyprus. Turkish accession is in everyone's long term benefit: Cyprus, Turkey the EU and the world. We must not let 'fear' or unreasonable demands stop this potential benefit.
Erol Ziya, Kyrenia/Girne, Cyprus

I am unconvinced that Turkey's inclusion is necessary for the EU. Turkey is a country with marked social and religious differences to "existing" Europe. A "diplomatic bridge" between the EU and the Middle East is a nonsense. Nobody can act as a bridge between the two as long as the United States wields considerable influence over Israel. The EU is still finding its way with 25 member states. Let that process continue before introducing another country which will no doubt have demands of its own.
Stephen Porter, UK

Turkey should join Britain and others in the common market and leave the EU to France and Germany.
Ian Brown, Derby, UK

Everyone is asking about the same thing. Should Turkey be allowed to EU? But have you ever thought that how Turkish citizens would decide in 10-15 years time. If you look at the growing economy and the young generation maybe they will be the ones who will not want EU. Do you really believe that EU will last that long? I am doubtful.
Arda, Turkey

Their membership may help to solve many of the EU's problems
Sultan, Manchester, UK
Turkey should gain EU membership but only when the Turkish economy meets the criteria which could be in 20 or more years. Their membership may help to solve many of the EU's problems as well as create new challenges which will be found only if the opportunity is given.
Sultan, Manchester, UK

Turkey does not belong in Europe. People may talk of an economic union and in this sense there is no problem, but today's EU is much bigger than that. It is a cultural union as well, and Turkey does not share a European or Christian culture. These are the facts. Can you imagine a Europe, bordering Syria and Iraq?
Peter, Sydney

How can a country that occupies a member state Cyprus be a full member? Turkey defies UN resolutions with regards to Cyprus. Turkey even fails to recognise Cyprus. Turkey has to make serious moves on resolving the problem and making real attempts to re-unify the island and not divide. It has to look upon the island as a friendly state and not of a strategic importance to itself.
Antonis Tselepis, London England

No, Turkey is not to join the EU. Ten new countries just got in and they need to settle in first. This will take a couple years. No thanks!
Ynse Kalsbeek, Hoorn, The Netherlands

Turkey is not part of Europe, there has to be a limit of the EU. They try to make us guilty saying that if we do not take them, we are a Christian club. They try to make the Cypriots guilty for not accepting a plan that was going to keep them from returning to their homes and an indefinite Turkish occupation militarily. Turkey can have a partnership, but should not be an EU member. But I'm sure the UK in its quest to undermine the EU politically, will try their hardest to push them in.
Alessio, Italy

Anything short of full membership would betray the ideals and spirit of the EU
Eric Miller, UK
In principle yes, are they ready? No. We joke about the democratic deficit within the EU, but Turkey has truly a void. However things have drastically improved and it will take time. It worked in Eastern Europe, and will work in Turkey, so long as the incentives and oversight are there. Anything short of full membership though would simply betray the ideals and spirit of the EU.
Eric Miller, UK

Turkey should join. I think EU citizens need to know Turkey better. Turkey is not just headscarves and poor people who want to immigrate to EU. They said the same things for Poland and the rest. "All Polish and Czech people will immigrate after joining." What happened? Nothing - they didn't. People who haven't been to Turkey need to go and explore including politicians. Give them a chance.
Efe Miller, UK

Blair would love to let Turkey join as he sees it as a chance to appease Muslims. He is not happy just making the British look like laughing stocks, he now wants the rest of Europe to look the same.
Lee W, London

Turkey doesn't have that European ethnicity or culture. Just the proximity does not make turkey a European.
Robin d'Souza, Dubai (UAE)


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