Turkey’s accession to the EU remains a moot topic with no one wanting to point out the elephant in the room

 

Europe’s leaders do not want a Muslim country to infiltrate their ‘Christian club’, and they are dodging bullets and fostering hostility in Turkey by denying this.

Turkey and the EU, a relationship once filled with hope and prosperity. What went so wrong? Well, in order to disguise the fact that Europe does not want a Muslim country in its midst, leaders have ensured that the EU has remained a moving target for its southeastern neighbour for the past 11 years.

Constantly criticising different aspects of Turkey’s policy from democratic status to visa regulations, the heads of many European governments are attempting to disguise the fact that they believe allowing a Muslim country free access to the continent would be disastrous. We would be left with strengthened far-right xenophobia and nationalism as well as further dissatisfaction with EU legislation.

Fair enough, we’ve moved along slightly since the flat rejection of the Sarkozy or Kohl governments, but Merkel is still head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and would be lying if she said this issue wasn’t at the forefront of her mind. Germany’s stance is somewhat to be expected, it is the take of countries like the Czech Republic that should really be called into question. A self-declared atheist nation, perhaps their aversion to Turkish membership rests more on covert racism rather than a fear of having to maintain ‘endangered’ Christian values. The religious excuse doesn’t quite work here, especially given that traditionally Christian countries such at the United Kingdom remain key advocates for the accession process.

The European Union can use Turkey as a neighbour, and use it very well. Its energy supplies to the continent and buffer-zone status to the Middle East in the wake of the refugee crisis, make Turkey indispensable to European foreign policy. When that helpful neighbour however wants to shift a step closer into the realm of domestic policy then we seem to have a problem. This problem is a growing, radical far-right presence emerging in many countries across Europe that would be violently intolerant to the open borders with a Muslim state, secular or not.

No matter how the Union figureheads or the leaders of individual governments choose to word it, Turkey’s problem in terms of its accession is its religion. The EU knows it, Merkel knows it, and judging by the increased ambivalence toward membership, Turkey knows it too.