Turkey denied by EU again

Commission cites hostile Turkish-Cypriot relations in latest delay of EU membership.

Since beginning talks on joining the European Union in October 2005, Turkey has encountered numerous roadblocks in its effort to join the block and this month’s European Commission report is no different. The commission has delivered an extremely critical verdict on Turkey’s progress toward EU membership. The report includes a long list of problems Turkey needs to address before membership is possible, including human rights and civilian control of the military, but focuses mostly on the opening of Turkish ports to EU member nation Cyprus. The debate over Turkey’s entry to the EU should focus more on the country’s political and human rights reforms and less on the longstanding dispute with Cyprus, within lies much controversy.

The longstanding rift between Cyprus and Turkey focuses on the unrecognized Northern Turkish Cypriot republic and its fight for a legitimate existence inside Cyprus. Ankara insists it will only open its ports to Greek Cypriot traffic if the Turkish Cypriot republic can trade and travel freely in return. Taking into consideration the current state of isolation in the republic, Turkey has every right to be concerned about the situation for Turkish Cypriots. Turkish politicians should demand an end to the Turkish Cypriot economic isolation before continuing membership negotiations.

The EU pays lip service to upholding principles of democracy and tolerance; however, there exists a double standard. Days before Cyprus was welcomed in the EU, Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. plan that would have led to the reunification of the island. Today, when it is Turkey who is failing to open its ports to traffic from Cyprus, its membership is being postponed without much room for negotiation. The EU made its first mistake by not resolving the Cyprus issue before admitting Greek Cyprus and its second mistake by demanding a much harsher standard from Turkey.

One cannot help but question if there exists any significance in that Turkey would be the only overwhelmingly Muslim nation among a predominantly Christian club, if given membership into the EU.