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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 14:54 GMT
Turkey's EU bid: Readers' views
Talks on Turkey's bid to join the European Union stalled on Monday when EU foreign ministers suspended discussions surrounding key issues.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the EU of acting unfairly towards Turkey. Here four Turkish readers debate whether they think their country should proceed with its bid.

SINAN FENERCIOGLU, 23, STUDENT, ISTANBUL

Sinan Fenercioglu
I support Turkey's bid for EU membership but not at all costs.

The right of free movement for all Turkish citizens is an indispensable part of EU membership.

If we are not granted this right, then it will be at best a half-membership. That's simply unacceptable.

Turkey does stand to benefit from the economic impact of EU membership. I don't think our country needs to attract huge amounts of EU funds to make itself better necessarily.

It's time [for the EU] to be honest not only with Turkey but also with both sides of the divide in Cyprus
Sinan Fenercioglu

However, the foreign investment we are likely to attract will establish our place on the world map and should make Turkey a prosperous country.

Cyprus is obviously a problem which should have been solved long ago. However, the EU is being totally unfair with Turkish Cypriots and Turkey over this issue.

Turkish Cypriots accepted with a big majority the Annan Plan and the sanctions still remain, while the Greek side rejected it and has been accepted as a full member since.

I think bigger EU members states like France and Germany are using Cyprus as an excuse to stall the process.

It's time to be honest not only with Turkey but also with both sides of the divide in Cyprus.

BEYLERBEYI, STUDENT, 29, FROM ISTANBUL, CURRENTLY LIVING IN SOUTHAMPTON, UK

Beylerbeyi
I am against Turkey's association with the EU, and Nato for that matter.

Turkey should instead cooperate with its neighbours in the region to promote development and prevent further imperialistic aggression by the West.

I oppose the EU because it is a club for developed countries who exploit the Third World by employing global organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, or through bilateral actions.

Some EU countries are even willing to use force, as we have seen in Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

It is no coincidence that support for Turkey's EU membership comes mainly from the business elite and the political classes of UK, Italy and Spain - countries currently supporting the USA's imperialistic adventures.

In return for this support, Turkey is expected to remove all remaining obstacles, including allowing Europe access to its economy and continuing its support for the West in keeping the Middle East, the Balkans and Caucasus under control.

Now Turkey is being punished and Turks are crying hypocrisy!
Beylerbeyi
While the US-UK axis may fear that Turkey will move further away from the West without EU membership, the Franco-German axis believes it is possible to keep Turkey as an ally without it.

They use Cyprus as an excuse to stall the whole negotiation process, but it is EU involvement that has exacerbated the Cyprus problem.

EU officials declared that the economic isolation of the north would be eased after the UN plan was rejected in the south.

However, they let the south join the EU and forgot their promises to the north. Now Turkey is being punished and Turks are crying hypocrisy!

Turkish troops should leave Cyprus after a unification deal is reached through the UN. And Turkey should leave EU negotiations immediately.

IBRAHIM TUTUNCUOGLU, 50, RESEARCHER, ISTANBUL

Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu
From the beginning, Turks have been interested in discovering how EU membership can really benefit the country.

Perhaps the problems we cannot seem to get rid of by ourselves, such as injustice, unemployment and human rights issues might be better addressed through pressure from the EU.

If these are settled Turkey can stand on its own two feet and strengthen its key industries - agriculture, tourism and energy.

Turkey can provide a vital bridge between Islam and the West
Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu
On the other hand, being a moderate Muslim nation, Turkey can provide a vital bridge between Islam and the West and try to reduce the threat of religious extremism between the West and East.

However to ensure Turkey does become a full member, existing EU member states must adopt a more sincere, mature, and unbiased stance than they are currently taking.

The opposition of countries such as Germany, France and Austria is nothing more than prejudice. They should remember that Turkey is a member of the Nato alliance, and protected their freedoms during the Cold War.

Obviously, Cyprus is a major obstacle. Gradually, Turkey must develop relations with Greek Cypriots. These must not be seen as concessions but rather a strengthening of ties so both sets of people can move forward.

ASIM KAZANCIGIL, RESEARCHER, FROM ISTANBUL, CURRENTLY LIVING IN MILAN, ITALY

Turkey ought to have become a full member of the EEC back in 1981 along with Greece, but since then the stakes have become a lot higher.

I previously supported Turkish membership of the EU, but after discovering the surprising amount of ignorance and prejudice among Europeans regarding Turkey, I now believe that it's practically impossible.

There will always be another excuse to use against Turkey. It will never change
Asim Kazancigil
Europeans often confuse the Turks with Arabs. Here in Milan, my friends are surprised when they see me drinking wine - if only they knew that "raki" (Turkish ouzo) is much stronger, or that we have some excellent wines and beer in Turkey.

This is why most people who travel to Istanbul feel surprised to find a way more European city than they imagined.

Turkey has a serious PR problem, which has certainly become more difficult since 9/11.

It is ironic how, for example, Germany's past deeds have been forgotten so easily while the Turks are still remembered for issues which ought to have been forgotten a long time ago.

This, and the rising prejudice against Muslims, will remain the main reason why Turkey will never join the EU.

The disputes over Cyprus and the air and sea boundaries between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean Sea will continue to remain the favourite topics for those who wish to block Turkey's membership.

Another favourite topic will be the Armenian Genocide, which will often be put back on the table.

Basically, there will always be another excuse to use against Turkey. It will never change.






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