Dominique Moisi questions whether the EU is ready for Turkey, and cites three likely factors involved.
Polls show that at least in France, 75 percent of the population is not ready to accept Turkey – it is a refusal based on ignorance, stereotypes and prejudices disguised as common sense. And without the support of France, it is unlikely that Turkey can enter the union. It is therefore essential to understand the emotional roots of public rejection, some of which apply beyond France.
And the three:
First, globalization. The more interdependent the world becomes, the more people look for marginal differences. The more they fear the unknown, the more they desire familiarity. In an increasingly secular Europe, the sound of church bells takes on a reassuring cultural – as opposed to religious – quality. There is a widespread notion that 70 million Muslims are disturbing, if not invading, our select club.
Second, 9/11 makes Turkey’s integration at once more necessary and more frightening. If the threat comes from within Islam, the reasoning goes, why on earth should we marry our mortal enemy?
And unlike Bosnia, which will one day apply for candidacy, Turkey is both Muslim and very large. Of course this is precisely why we need Turkey, if our aging continent wants to recover its demographic dynamism and fulfill its ambition to truly play a world diplomatic role, in particular in the Middle East.
Third, the process of enlargement itself is playing against Turkey, since Europe is already adjusting to its passage from 15 to 25 members.