Saturday, March 27, 2010

Germany's Prejudice

Following up on the last post, it has now become extremely clear that while Merkel is in power in Germany there will be no movement on EU accession by Turkey.

The Chancellor has again reiterated her opposition to Turkish membership based on the prejudices of a broad group supporters who are unwilling to accept any non-Christian country into the club. Similar sentiments are prevalent in France and most strongly in Austria, although to be frank, the latter country doesn't really count for much.

What the Chancellor is attempting to ignore - so far successfully - are the provisions of the EU acquis regarding Turkish membership. This document - all 110,000 pages - does not contain the words "privileged partnership". Anywhere. In the words of an iconic New York Yankee baseball player - "You can look it up".

The misguided, prejudiced position of a country that has assumed control of the EU, if not its leadership, cannot be characterized any longer under the rubric of foreign policy choices. There are over 3 million Turks living in Germany. Germany originally "invited" many of their parents and grandparents to immigrate to perform the jobs Germans considered too menial for themselves. Over 4,000 German companies operate in Turkey and bilateral trade exceeds 20 million euro. There cannot be any other reason other than good, old fashioned bigotry to suddenly attempt to breach the terms of the acquis.

Merkel needs to rethink German opposition to Turkish membership. Her ally in this quest, President Sarkozy, is likely to be hammered in the next French election if the latest regional election results are any indication. Spain, England and Eastern Europe members do not oppose Turkish membership and are also likely to become increasingly wary of German control of the EU. The Tories in England may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but if they win another crack will appear in the EU further endangering the viability of the euro. Merkel and her ever shrinking circle of friends may then find that Germany is again viewed with deep suspicion.

Germany needs to decide whether changing the rules toward the end of the game is good for overall perceptions of its potential honesty in other matters. Mitteleuropa is still a not so distant memory.

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