The leaked American Diplomatic cables have shown us an insight on many situations. The cables on Turkish acceptance to the EU are interesting. Correspondence from Embassy Hague in 2004, show that the Dutch were strong supporters of Turkey’s acceptance to the Union.
Ambassador Sobel’s comment at the time was:
*“The Dutch governing elite want a Yes for Turkey and they seem confident that they can bring the nation as well as the rest of the EU along.”
Clearly, aside from the Copenhagen criteria that needed to be met by Turkey, Islam in Europe was one of the topics discussed by the members.
*De Gooijer rejected prejudice against Islam as a basis for opposing Turkey, with the below words:
“We must not allow ourselves to be guided by fear, for example, of Islam. Raising barriers to any particular religion does not fit in with Europe’s shared values. Our opposition should be directed not against religions but against people and groups misusing their religion to get their way by force.”
Similarly, the Vatican Embassy cables from 2004 sound supportive of Turkey’s acceptance to the EU.
**Acting Holy See Foreign Minister Parolin reaffirmed August 18 that the Holy See remained open to Turkish EU membership. If Turkey meets the EU’s Copenhagen criteria, Parolin said, the Vatican sees no obstacle to EU membership.
Charge pointed out that as an EU member, Turkey could help to ease tensions between the Western and Muslim worlds, illustrating how a secular state with a Muslim population could cooperate with countries with a Judeo-Christian heritage.
The French stand against Islam in general seemed a bit different than Vatican or Hague according to the Paris cables in 2005. Stapleton the Paris Ambassador at the time reported on unrest of lower socioeconomic minorities.
***The perpetrators of the urban rampaging (refs) in France are by and large of Arab-African and Black-African background. In most cases, they are also Muslims, raising the question as to what extent their religious affiliation helps explain the explosion in France’s immigrant suburbs. There is widespread agreement that unemployment and lack of education, and not religious affiliation, are the primary factors underlying the angry hopelessness of urban youth.
Clearly, Stapleton was under the impression that unrest caused by low finances were interpreted as an Islamist act by the French, only because the citizens acting against poor life conditions, happened to be Muslims. Below was a clear example of how the reaction had nothing to do with Islam, yet the French labeled these people as strictly religiously motivated by trying to resolve it through religious leaders.
“***GOF guilty of using religion?
Â¶9. (SBU) Interestingly, some see the government itself as guilty to some degree of having violated the principle of secularism it holds so dear. In a meeting with the rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon on November 15, one Muslim religious leader’s criticized the government for violating France’s strict separation of the religious and the public. The Rector, Kamel Kabtane, took to task the government’s effort to use Muslim religious figures to calm the situation in troubled neighborhoods. Kabtane said that many of his fellow-clerics were also ambivalent about the French government’s call on religious leaders to “do the work of the government and security forces.” “If farmers started protesting”, said the Rector, “the government wouldn’t call on the Archbishop to resolve the situation.” He warned against attributing a religious dimension to socio-economic problems; there was a risk it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Stapleton’s comment on the Fundamentalist Islam Problem in France was very much different than what main stream media reported at the time. He describes the underclass youth as non Islamist, even though Muslim and points out France’s racist attitude against minorities.
“***The gangs of underclass youths who are the perpetrators of the car burnings and urban violence in France are not Islamists, nor are they at all motivated by religion. It is highly misleading to characterize them — as is often done in media coverage — as “insurgent” and “Muslim” youths. The anger felt by these youths stems from how they are trapped and without a future — facing pervasive racial prejudice, and without the skills and education needed to get-a-life of employment and conventional respect.
Whether or not Islamic organizations and fundamentalist proselytizing will make significant inroads among the inhabitants of France’s immigrant suburbs of course depends on the effectiveness of the GOF’s social programs and the willingness of French society at large to face up to its pervasive prejudices against Blacks and Arabs.”
Going through all the above mentioned documents, it seems that six to seven years ago, American diplomats’ impression, which derived from dialogues with officials of EU members, was that Turkey was going to be accepted, if they met the Copenhagen Criteria.
They also reported on racist attitude against French citizens of Arab or black descent who were generally Muslim.
This week president Sarkozy visited Turkey, and expressed his stand against Turkey’s EU membership. It was reported in the German publication DW that Cyprus is one of the main reasons of oppositions.
****“EU countries unanimously agreed in 2005 to start talks with Turkey with the goal of full membership. But out of the 35 policy chapters that EU candidates must negotiate, Ankara has opened talks on only 13 since the accession negotiations began.
Talks on 18 chapters have been frozen because of opposition from France and other members and a stalemate over the divided island of Cyprus. No significant progress has been made since last July.”
Ironically according to the Hague cables from 2004, EU partners other than UK do not really engage in Cyprus.
“***WILD CARD CYPRUS
*Â¶12. (C/NF) Pollman suggested the EU might give the GoC, as an EU Member State, its due on the Cyprus trade and financial support issues while then expecting Papadopoulos to relent on Turkey. However, EU partners do not really engage on Cyprus since only the UK has any real interest in the island, she said, adding, What does Cyprus have these days, besides the Turkey card? And this means the EU has but little leverage over Cyprus; Pollman hoped that powers outside the EU will pressure Popadopolous to support Turkish accession, using whatever psychological, political, or other means that might work.”
The general impression from the cables is that Cyprus was never a priority; the more urgent areas that need change were as follows:
- judges’ behavior,
- concerns about torture,
- access of Kurds to Kurdish language education,
- free exercise of religion,
- and the role of the military.
There has been significant change, on all of the above mentioned topics. Some of the points still need a lot of improvement and it is a work in progress.
The cables are not official statements from EU members but impressions of American Diplomats, which make them an excellent source, to get an insight on some of the unofficial, therefore unpolished views, in regards to the situation.
Given that in 2004 most EU members were leaning towards Turkey’s acceptance as a member, combined with the fact that Turkey has been working on the changes needed to join, Sarkozy or Merkel’s stand against Turkey, are possibly for other reasons than EU criteria issues.
France’s prejudiced attitude towards their Muslim citizens, portrays a completely different picture of the nation than the “Land of liberty” image that it has been benefiting from.
Turkey’s economic situation has changed a lot since 2004. It has been going forward while the rest of the EU is still going through “domino effect” financial crises.
The uprising of China and India, the economical crises in the EU and the US, the revolutions in the Middle East, all signal tremendous change in the world, as well as shift of power.
So far, Turkey has gained more control from an economical and political point of view. Whether it will become part of the EU or gain momentum with no ties to anyone is yet to be seen.
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