EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn says that respecting democracy and secularism is the best medicine to reboot Turkey’s EU accession drive. Moves in Ankara to shut down the ruling AK Party for alleged Islamist subversion have caused concern, and the Commission and the European Parliament are urging faster reform as an antidote.
Greek MEP Maria Eleni Koppa expressed the view of the Socialist group in Strasbourg that, in spite of slow reform, Turkish membership opponents should not pull the rug out from under it: “We believe that the goal should stay full accession of Turkey. Because the Union cannot change the rules of the game after the game has started.”
In contrast, Jacques Toubon, of the same party as France’s ruling conservatives, who are reluctant to see Turkey join – and who want alternatives considered – said: “A strong, sustainable partnership structure is needed, in which Turkey can play its full role as the regional power that it is.
That’s very important for Europe and Asia. The other side of this is: we get to continue with our European project, which is to have an identity in the world.” Rehn said Turkey could not afford to waste any more time with reforms it got to work on when in 2005 it formally began the negotiations to become an EU member in full standing.