Sunday, October 02, 2005

# Posted 9:02 AM by Patrick Belton  

TURKEY ON THE TABLE: The beastly Austrians are pushing a proposal tonight that Turkey settle for something less than full membership in talks scheduled to begin tomorrow. Taoiseach says, correctly, EU must stick by its word, given of course under his watch. Solana tells Bild am Sonntag this morning that he's confident there will be a last-minute agreement, saying 'decisions that involve Turkey were always reached at the last minute in the past' (the Germans don't note the presence or absence of humour in that last comment).

I'm quite for Turkish membership, promoting Europe as an example of diverse peoples living under liberal democracy, and taking at European level a principled stand against the populist rhetoric surrounding discussion of Turkish membership in Austria, Germany and France. Turkey would provide a sharply greying Europe with a massive infusion of cheap, young labour which it desperately needs, and with subsidies from Brussels probably having peaked following the recent round of enlargement, it (unlike France) is unlikely to siphon off much from European treasuries in the form of structural aid and other subsidies. And this is a sharp moment in Turkey's own political evolution, determining whether its recent political, economic, legal and civil rights reforms will be rewarded or spurned by neighbours whose moral legitimacy turns not on their being a club of prosperous white Christians, but on upholding precisely those sorts of reforms and rights.

So here's one for hoping that meeting tonight in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers do the right thing.
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