Europe Must Not Turn Its Back on Turkey at Such a Pivotal Moment

By Macintyre, Donald | The Independent (London, England), December 5, 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Europe Must Not Turn Its Back on Turkey at Such a Pivotal Moment


Macintyre, Donald, The Independent (London, England)


A VIVID painting in the British Ambassador's house in Ankara depicts one of his early 18th century predececessors, Charles Wortley Montague, paying court to the Grand Vizier in Constantinople. The Briton is perched uncomfortably on a plain, hard- backed chair, looking up respectfully at the Sultan's chief minister, who is relaxing cross legged on a luxuriant settee. There is not a shred of doubt who is the supplicant and who the man with the power.

Turkey no longer presides over a great empire. Yet it's hard not to see a parallel, however imperfect, in the stream of international visitors sitting at the feet of her new leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Suddenly everyone wants to know the man whose Islamist party won a landslide last month against a coalition fatally weakened by corruption and economic collapse.

Most prominent this week among the suitors, of course, has been the US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, here to plead for military co- operation in a possible war in Iraq about which Turkey remains distinctly nervous. Turkey, in turn, is already driving a hard bargain, well on the way to securing guarantees of hundreds of millions of US dollars and against a new Kurdish state emerging in Northern Iraq if Saddam Hussein is toppled.

Nor is that all. For the hawkish Mr Wolfowitz has been at his most vocal in supporting Turkey's most cherished foreign policy goal - membership of the EU. It's tempting for some in Europe to think that because Mr Wolfowitz is pushing this so hard and because the British Government, the US's principal ally on Iraq, are the leading EU champions of Turkish entry, that there must be something wrong with the idea or that it is merely a short term ramp to get round a difficult military corner. Tempting and utterly wrong. The stakes are much higher than that.

While it may be hard to admit, Mr Wolfowitz happens to be right on this. The decisions the Copenhagen EU summit will take at the end of next week on Turkey may prove pivotal to relations between what we call the West and the Muslim world. This is a historic moment and not just for the EU.

First, a little detail. Thanks to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, not to mention Lord Hannay, the Government's special envoy on Cyprus, there has never been a better opportunity since the mid- Seventies - and may never be again - to settle the too long neglected conflict between the two peoples of that bitterly divided island. The UN-brokered deal, which offers Greek and Turkish Cypriots two autonomous sectors within a lightly federal structure, has much to offer both groups. The hope, by no means certain of fulfilment, is that with the support of Greece and Turkey the two local communities can be persuaded next week to sign up to its principles.

As it happens both Turkey and Greece, as the government of each well realises, have an incentive to persuade, respectively, the stubborn Rauf Denktash and his Greek Cypriot counterpart George Clerides to sign the crucial pre-amble to the agreement next week. For Turkey, an end to the long running problem would remove one more excuse for the EU to block its application for membership. And a progressive Greek government which actually wants good political and economic relations with the big Eastern neighbour with which it has quarrelled for so long, will support Turkey's EU application provided Cyprus can be settled.

But Cyprus has now become inextricably linked with a much bigger picture. It's a near-certainty that the issue of Cyprus and that of a Turkish EU application date will go to the wire in the familiar nothing-is-agreed- until-everything-is-agreed mode of EU summits.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Europe Must Not Turn Its Back on Turkey at Such a Pivotal Moment
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?