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The Road To Democracy

The Road To DemocracyFletcher professor Dimitris Keridis believes that the European Union’s decision to begin full membership talks with Turkey is a positive development for the international community.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.21.05] After 30 hours of negotiations, the European Union voted in early October to invite Turkey, a 42-year associate member of the organization, to begin talks that will likely lead to full membership. While the process could stretch as long as a decade, one Tufts professor believes the invitation to begin these discussions is significant for the United States and the rest of the world.

“In what Jack Straw, Britain’s foreign minister, has properly called ‘a truly historic day for Europe and for the whole international community,’ Turkey’s step toward full acceptance in the EU marks the culmination of Western-style reforms, initiated first by the Ottomans, that go back two centuries,” Dimitris Keridis, the Constantine Karamanlis Associate Professor in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies at The Fletcher School, wrote in an opinion piece in The Boston Globe.

Although the road up to this point has been bumpy for Turkey - with Austria sternly objecting to the country becoming a full member - there is still cause to celebrate, Keridis explained in the editorial.

“A democratic and prospering Turkey in Europe will be a pillar of stability in the volatile Middle East, a valuable friend and partner of the West, and a powerful model for Muslim societies around the world,” he wrote in the Globe.

Based on their experience with Spain and Poland, EU leaders have an expectation that Turkey will liberalize and democratize as a way of preparing to join the Union, Keridis said.

This would be beneficial for the U.S., he added.

“The United States has always been supportive of Turkey’s aspirations – hopeful that Turkish accession will provide a link to the Islamic world and increase U.S. influence inside the EU,” Keridis wrote in the newspaper. “While Turkey is already becoming more ‘European’ and less ‘Atlantic’ in its foreign policy orientation, a stable and cooperative Turkey is essential for the success of U.S. projects in neighboring Iraq.”

According to Keridis, Turkey’s entrance into the 25-member EU has sparked concern from Europeans and Turks alike because it is viewed as “a large country, heavily populated, poor, Muslim, occasionally disrespectful of human and minority rights, and with a militant secularist republic guarded by an assertive military.”

Turkey has to find a way to overcome these issues in negotiating with the EU, he pointed out.

“Ultimately, Turkey must reconfigure the European debate in its favor,” Keridis wrote. “It should refocus the discussion on the dynamism of its economy rather than its poverty, its growth, and its catching up potential rather than its size and the gap that separates it from the rest of the EU. In an anxiety-ridden and isolationist contemporary Europe, Turkey is a great challenge.”

But while Turkey must approach these talks strategically, so, too, must the EU, according to Keridis.

“Europe’s test is to prove that it remains relevant in an American-dominated world and that there is a Euro-liberal complement to the neoconservative policy of democratization based on persuasion rather than coercion,” Keridis wrote in the Globe. “And that this, depending on local conditions, can be more effective and less costly to the Atlantic community as it tries to ‘drain the swamp’ upon which instability and terrorism feed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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