Wednesday, November 29, 2006

How long for Turkey? How long's a piece of string?

Turkey should be part of the EU by now; it is a very important/strategic member of NATO and is important for security.

My view of Turkey is that it continues to perform well as an economy. Its central bank has some credibility with regards to inflation targeting, and the IMF recently stated that it was happy with its pension reform, which amongst other things, provides a “good” sentiment about the country. On the flip side, public finances could be improved upon, with a fiscal deficit that leaves little to the imagination of how it might be funded. Comparative advantage in the textiles sector continues to diminish due to stiff competition, though still supports a large labour force. The economy is not bad, and could do better – a statement that holds true for many “performing” countries, and indeed, some EU members.

“Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”

The EU - as a unit – is ill placed to hurl accusations of unacceptable standards at anybody. Famous for protectionist policies (citing France and Italy) that directly harm poor countries and a raft of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do policies that I don’t have the energy to cite at length, it would suffice to say that the EU does not epitomise a halo.

There are quite a few EU members that want Turkey in, against a minority of powerful dissenters, who have made a meal out of antagonising the process. The elephant in the room is the failure to openly recognise the imminent benefits of having an Arab country as an EU member. Perhaps this lies behind a view that traditional European countries are Caucasian countries, rendering non-Caucasoids as immigrants of some order, which would make Turkey a non-Caucasoid EU state. Perhaps!!!! I wonder quite loudly whether the EU might be tacitly entertaining such backward stances. This is just a thought, though not difficult to imagine however.

The West needs to understand Arabs so that it can have better, inclusive policies, which are formed out of genuine need, rather than hasty xenophobia. Turkey will bring more diversity into Europe. Yes, there will be more labourers, but that should be offset by willingness for companies to set-up low cost units in Turkey, a willingness by western companies to engage the Turkish economy. If we in Europe just want to seal the walls around us, then, let’s just do so without the ceremonious nonsense. Better still, why don’t the majority quell the minority dissenters, for the benefit of the greater good? If anybody responds to this question by citing that democracy will not permit such a move, my rebuttal would be - after an expression of shock at their selective ignorance – that democracy is largely ignored in world matters too often to discount, and an apparent lack of knowledge about this warrants no further attention.

I suppose Turkey can join the EU tomorrow if it wanted – metaphorically – it’s a question of how far it’s willing to bend.

How far should any country have to bend?

The fiasco continues…

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