Before I get to Turkey, a quick note:

I worry that the Interdependent is becoming too Europe-focused due to my profuse posting, so let me set something straight: this is not a Euro-blog. There exist many excellent Euro-blogs in the blogosphere. But this is a blog about the world — all its continents, regions, countries, nations and organizations, and how they are interconnected and interdependent. There is a heavy Europe focus right now because I have more free time than my fellow bloggers, and Europe is what I know. It’s where I’ve spent roughly half my life, and it’s the area I’ve studied the most in international relations. However, the Europe I know and study is Big Europe, Europe as the OSCE sees it, 54+ countries and innumerable nations, more a political concept than a geographic area or cultural identity. It is both West and East, and almost always some blending of the two. It is not defined by race, language, or religion, nor mountains and bodies of water. It is defined by principles and aspirations. It is ever-shifting.

And, now: Turkey news.

From the Guardian.

We are only two weeks from  an existential explosion

If the European Union now spurns Turkey, it will deservedly stand accused of historic dishonesty and perfidy

Martin Kettle
Saturday  December  2, 2006
The Guardian

Today, as in the past, Turkey embodies transcendent political questions. Can west and east live in harmony? How can secular and religious values best coexist? Are minorities and human rights properly respected? This week Pope Benedict trod a more exemplary path through these difficult issues than some had expected. Now the European Union must do the same if it is to avoid becoming a protectionist irrelevance and, perhaps, if it is to survive at all.

In spite of all its problems, the mutual embrace between the west and Turkey is a great project of civilisation and law. Yet events are pushing both sides towards an epochal confrontation at this month’s EU summit. We are a mere two weeks away from an existential explosion which could end with Europe defining itself as a place in which Muslims are not welcome, and with modern Turkey turning away from the westernising path that has been fundamental to its whole existence. We would be crazy to allow either
thing to happen.

It is futile to deny that Turkey is in its own distinct but deep sense a part of Europe. Like Britain it is a nation of the periphery, but there is no European network of importance – from the Champions League and the Eurovision Song Contest to Nato and the Council of Europe – of which Turkey is not a part. The sole exception is the EU.

The European Union will make a grave error in judgment if it kills Turkey’s hope of joining the EU. Turkey is the key to proving, once and for all, that Huntington’s horrid and entirely self-fulfilling “clash of civilizations” is not only completely avoidable, but will be avoided. Turkey’s acceptance into the EU would also prove to Europe’s tens of millions of Muslims that Islam and Europe are not mutually exclusive (in fact, they never were to begin with.)

Turkey must step back from the Cyprus problem (as must Greece.) It must improve its human rights situation. It must allow Turks to examine and criticize their own history. It must protect –not persecute– its minorities. I agree, 100% with all of these, but Turkey must be given assurances that, once it has done these things, it will be welcomed into the EU.