Keep Turkey out of E.U. says former German Chancellor Schmidt
Turkey should be barred from joining the European Union, former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt said in his latest book published Thursday.
"Given the great cultural differences and geographical concerns I must ... recommend against taking Turkey into the European Union," writes Schmidt.
Schmidt lists a series of reasons for not admitting Turkey to the 15-nation European Union (E.U.).
First, he says, is Turkey's size. With a population of 65 million today, Turkey is projected to reach 100 million in 35 years and by the end of the century will have more people than Germany and France put together. "Those who want to take Turkey into the E.U. should have these figures in their head," says Schmidt.
Forging a common E.U. foreign policy with Turkey would be very complicated, says Schmidt. Turkey stretches deep into the Middle East and shares borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia, he notes. Turkey has had centuries of strife with Greece and is saddled with the problem posed by its 20-million Kurdish minority. The "centuries old animosity" between Turkey and Russia could also flame up again, says Schmidt.
"Turkey is nearly inevitably involved indirectly in every future Middle East war and has its own security interests in the region," writes Schmidt.
Islam is another issue of concern to the E.U. says Schmidt: "The outcome of the re-Islamisation process is uncertain and fundamentalism is possible."
A further problem raised by Schmidt is immigration. Germany has 2.1 million Turkish nationals whom Schmidt says have failed to integrate in the sense of a melting pot.
"No real integration of additional immigrants can be expected and immigration thus need to be limited by the E.U.," he says. Turkish membership in the European Union would throw open the bloc to free immigration by Turks.
Schmidt argues the E.U. was browbeaten by the United States into finally making Turkey a membership candidate. Ending almost 40 years of deflecting Ankara, E.U. leaders approved making Turkey a candidate at their December 1999 Helsinki summit.
But Schmidt says Washington has far different interests than Europe regarding Turkey which is a member of the NATO alliance. The U.S., he says, views Ankara as a "key pillar in its strategy to dominate the Middle East".
Schmidt argues that it was both a mistake and dishonest of E.U. leaders to make Turkey a candidate. "They are depending on the fact that Turkey will not in the foreseeable future be in a position to meet the criteria which apply to all applicants...," he writes.
It would have been far better for the E.U. to lay its cards on the table, he says, adding that what Turkey really needs is a broad treaty of association with the E.U.
Schmidt's book is titled "Die Selbstbehauptung Europas, Perspektiven fuer das 21. Jahrhundert" (The Self-Assertion of Europe, Prospects for the 21st Century) and is published by the Deutsche Velags-Anstalt in Stuttgart.
A member of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (SPD), Schmidt, who is 82, served as German chancellor from 1974 to 1982.
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