In our series on election considerations in Germany, here is a look at questions on Turkey. Chancellor Schroeder has always made supporting Turkey’s bid for European Union membership a personal project, saying any risks are outweighed by the potential benefit of binding an Islamic country to Europe. His opponent Angela Merkel said: “That is irresponsible foreign policy which we won’t go along with”.
Yet Peter Gros, a Center for European Policy Studies analyst, says: “Deciding to at least start the adhesion negotiations is not called into question by the opposition conservatives. We are going to see in the coming years how Turkey evolves. I don’t believe anything will have to be decided in the short term.” Turkey has been formally associated with the EU for nearly 40 years, and is categorically aiming for membership in the bloc. Bahadir Kaleagasi, permanent representative in Brussels for the Association of Turkish enterprises, conveys indignation. “The negotiations will start on the 3rd of October, and it will become more obvious that this privileged partnership proposal is an empty shell, it is even indecent.” Turning to a transatlantic consideration… Germany’s conservatives are generally well-disposed towards Washington but are not receptive to U.S. urging to let Turkey into the EU. Thomas Jensen, coordinator for the hardline Christian Democrats in Brussels says: “I see no contradiction there: The Europeans must do what they think is right, according to their own interests. We will be able to make the Americans understand that later, especially if we (the CDU) have good, relaxed relations with them.” Relations between the CDU and Turks living in Germany may be another matter: there are some 2.4 million, and 700,000 of them have the right to vote.