Let Turkey join EU

Ankara is back on the European Union’s agenda.

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Published: Thu 24 Oct 2013, 8:26 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

After a prolonged delay owing to the sceptics in Brussels, European foreign ministers have hinted at discussing Turkey’s membership to the 28-member bloc next month. Ankara has left no stone unturned to prove its eligibility and socio-political desire to be part of the West while retaining its uniqueness as a vibrant Muslim-majority entity. The talks in Luxembourg should take a holistic view of Turkey’s indispensability for the union and grant it full membership without attaching any more preconditions. There can’t be two sets of rules and it is high time Turkey, which has been aspiring to the membership for almost 25 years since it formally applied for it in 1987, is embraced with open arms. It is pertinent to mention here that latecomers such as Croatia and Serbia were accommodated in the union, irrespective of the fact that these break-away states had skeletons in their cupboards. The criteria of human rights and socio-economic uplift demanded by the EU were missing in those new republics. This consolidates the belief that Turkey is being singled out and penalised for being a predominantly Muslim country. In order to negate such an impression, it is incumbent upon the EU to move fast and acknowledge the strides that Ankara has made for acting as a bridge between the West and the East.

Turkey’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is progressive and reformation-oriented. That is evident from the judicial reforms and constitutional guarantees delivered to the Kurds. The pro-Islamist AK Party has more than crossed the benchmark. Also the manner in which the government prosecuted army generals and others who had plotted coups to overthrow elected governments indicates the democratic culture Turkey has attained. Last but not the least, Turkey stood its ground when upheavals came its way early this year in the wake of the Arab Spring. The edge that Ankara enjoys in brokering a thaw between the Palestinians and the Israelis makes it an important player in the region. Similarly, the fact that Turkey has led from the front in castigating Syria for the ongoing bloodshed in the war-torn country is no small achievement, if measured by the European Union principles.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, who is holding the EU presidency, has rightly tweeted “(It’s) time to catch up.” The onus is on the European Union to prove that it means business strictly on the basis of criteria, and there is no ill will on the premises of religion and regional considerations. The union’s enlargement will be half-hearted if Turkey is still kept waiting.

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