Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

New Year message: 'Geriatric' EU needs 'vigorous' Turkey

  • Erdogan (l) with EU commission head Barroso: the unusually forceful language is a measure of Turkish frustration with the EU accession process (Photo: European Commission)

Turkish leader Recep Tayip Erodgan has lambasted the EU as a spent force on the international stage in an angry statement aimed at unlocking accession talks.

Writing in an op-ed in the US magazine Newsweek on Monday (17 January) the Muslim leader said: "European labour markets and social-security systems are comatose. European economies are stagnant. European societies are near geriatric. Can Europe retain power and credibility in the new world order without addressing these issues?"

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

He put forward Turkish enlargement as an antidote to the EU's problems.

"Turkey has been putting its imprint on the global stage with its impressive economic development and political stability. The Turkish economy is Europe's fastest-growing sizeable economy and will continue to be so in 2011," he said. "Turkey is bursting with the vigour that the EU so badly needs."

The Newsweek piece noted Turkey's ascendancy as a "soft power" in the western Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus - the EU's most conflict-prone neighbourhood regions.

But Mr Erdogan rebuffed EU, Israeli and US concerns that his Islamist AKP party has a dark agenda to form a new league with fellow Muslim authorities in Iran and Syria in what one member of the Israeli parliament recently described to EUobserver as an "axis of evil."

"This is not a romantic neo-Ottomanism: It is realpolitik based on a new vision of the global order," the Turkish leader said.

Commenting on the state of play in EU accession talks, which ground to a halt under the Belgian EU presidency last year in part due to Cypriot opposition to Turkey's occupation of the island's north, he said: "This is turning into the sort of byzantine political intrigue that no candidate country has experienced previously."

"Turkey-EU relations are fast approaching a turning point," he added. "We are no more a country that would wait at the EU's door like a docile supplicant."

Ankara believes that the Cypriot problem is being exploited for strategic reasons by anti-Turkish-accession governments in Germany and France.

But two US cables published by WikiLeaks on Monday give an insight into EU fears at the popular level of what Turkish enlargement could mean.

A cable from the US embassy in the Hague dated September 2004, in the run-up to the formal launch of EU-Turkey accession negotiations in 2005, voiced worries by mainstream Dutch parties that anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders will easily "arouse difficult-to-manage populist sentiments based on deeply held fears and prejudices."

The mainstream Dutch parties themselves expressed "central worries, such as how the EU

will share structural, agricultural and solidarity benefits with Turkey, assuming these programs will look the same then as they do now."

The second cable, from October 2004, noted that Mr Wilders "continues to attract followers from those worried about inflows of Turkish workers."

Russian oligarchs failed to get off EU blacklist

Hungary failed to get three Russian and three Chinese names deleted, as the EU approved its 13th package of sanctions ahead of an anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Feature

Only Palestinians paying thousands of dollars leave Gaza

Despite the high risk of dying from war, starvation or disease, Gazans are still not allowed to enter Egypt. Except those who bribe the authorities. And the EU mission EUBAM Rafah cannot be deployed due to security reasons.

Latest News

  1. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  2. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit
  3. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  4. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting
  5. Record rate-profits sees EU banks give shareholders €120bn
  6. Why the EU silence on why Orban's €10bn was unblocked?
  7. Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line
  8. More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us