Our EU Membership and Global Peace

Our EU Membership and Global Peace
Huseyin Gulerce

European Commission President Romano Prodi and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Günther Verheugen are in Turkey for a two-day official visit.

We all know that this year, 2004, is the most crucial year for Turkey’s EU membership, and we have entered the critical months in which we need to focus all our attention and efforts towards that goal. Unfortunately however, we cannot avoid political tensions and artificial agendas within. It is no secret that both outside and inside circles against Turkey’s EU membership, will foment [political] tension in the country as we get closer to December 2004.

Both Europe and Turkey have made vain excuses on the EU membership issue for 40 years. While Europe has put us off on many occasions, we have turned down several opportunities. However, the membership issue has become a necessity for both sides today. If we perceive the force of fate through Europe, the clash of civilizations becoming less of a possibility and more of an inevitability, is the Western world’s nightmare. Due to many reasons, the Islamic world’s geography is the source of global terrorism. Being treated contemptuously, colonized, the continuing oppression inflicted on the Palestinians by Israel and the U.S invasion of Iraq, are some of the first reasons that come to mind.

However, there should be ways to avoid the clash of civilizations and the polarization of the world. The wisest path to follow is to contemplate the feasibility of the clash through dialogue and compromise, and the participation of nations that will help pioneer this development.

Considering the Islamic world, the country that stands out is Turkey, and we are not the only ones preaching this plain truth. Referring to Justice Minister Cemil Cicek’s statement to ZAMAN, “The Islamic world should take stringent measures against terrorism without any ‘buts’ or ‘howevers.'”

Thomas L. Friedman in his column in The New York Times on January 11, 2004, wrote the following: “If we want to help moderates win the war of ideas within the Muslim world, we must help strengthen Turkey as a model of democracy, modernism, moderation and Islam all working together.

“Nothing would do that more than having Turkey be made a member of the European Union. If, despite the huge number of reforms Turkey has undertaken, the EU shuts the door on Turkey, extremists all over the Muslim world will say to the moderates: ‘See, we told you so – it’s a Christian club and we’re never going to be let in. So why bother adapting to their rules?’

“Turkey’s membership in the EU is so important that the U.S. should consider subsidizing the EU to make it easier for Turkey to be admitted.'”

Verheugen made similar remarks to the German Focus magazine 10 days ago: “Many EU governments and and heads of state, who did not want Turkey’s membership, now want Turkey’s membership due to foreign policy and security issues. The development began on September 11, 2001.”

So the shock, experienced in America on September 11, 2001, in the biggest terrorist attack in human history, actually stresses the importance of inter-civilizations dialogue and Turkey’s importance in this dialogue.

The West knows this, volunteer foundations and people with common sense in Turkey also know this. Yesterday, members of different religious groups, led by the Turkish Journalists and Writers Union, prayed for peace in Istanbul. The heart’s desire is that at this major turning point in our collective destiny, Turkey’s rulers would understand this fact as well.