The ongoing attempt by Europe’s present sorry crop of leaders to permit Turkey to join the European Union is almost incomprehensibly irresponsible. Even the briefest examination of what Turkish accession would entail for Europeans suffices to show how foolish clever people can be. Turkey has a rapidly growing population of nearly 80 million, 99.8% of whom are Muslims, many of those adhering to ultra-conservative views (for instance on women’s rights) that have not been common in Europe since the early 19th century. Its citizens on average are much poorer and less well-educated than even the poorest and least-educated Europeans. Much of its economy consists of unsustainable subsistence agriculture and increasingly uncompetitive manufacturing, often using child labor. Its infrastructure, from roads to schools to healthcare, is almost completely of Second World status. It is a politically volatile country, split between an army-backed secular state and aggressive Islamist political parties, with a murderous Kurdish separatist insurgency, and bordering such desirable neighbors as Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It is a country whose troops occupy part of the territory of an existing EU member state (northern Cyprus), where police torture and press censorship are commonplace, and where it can be a criminal offence to mention the estimated 1.5 million Armenians slaughtered by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. If permitted to join the European Union, huge numbers of its citizens would immediately relocate to join already large, already marginalized Turkish communities in western Europe”while billions and billions of Euros would flow the other way, to upgrade the roads of Cappadocia or provide Kurdish-language broadcasting in Diyarbakir. It is a country whose historical relationship with its European neighbors has more often than not been as an aggressor and oppressor”and which manifestly does not come within a scimitar’s distance of the ostensibly non-negotiable Copenhagen Criteria on democracy and human rights.
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