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Westerwelle calls for closer Turkey ties to EU

The Local · 4 Jul 2011, 09:35

Published: 04 Jul 2011 09:35 GMT+02:00

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Westerwelle told the daily Die Welt that Turkey is becoming a regional powerhouse and the fact that it’s EU aspirations appear to be at a standstill is shameful to all sides involved.

It’s location, diversity and European outlook can make it a “bridge to the Islamic world,” he said. “We want to overcome this impasse,” Westerwelle added.

Berlin's foreign minister has just returned from a trip to Turkey, where he held extensive talks with his counterpart Ahmet Davutoğlu. In the coming days Davutoğlu will undertake travels in the Arab world, where Germany has deep interests.

Turkey’s long-running EU accession bid has run into strong opposition among many Europeans who see it as not being economically or politically ready.

Some have argued that those fears are a mask for deep discomfort with Islam in Turkey, although the state there is secular.

Westerwelle is aware that increasing closeness with Turkey is likely to be controversial in some quarters - including within Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition.

Whereas Westerwelle's Free Democrats are more open to Turkey joining the EU, Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats want to offer Ankara a "privileged partnership" below full membership.

But Westerwelle said a closer ties with the country would be in Europe’s interest.

He is being joined by prominent business leaders like Dieter Zetsche, who was born in Turkey and is the chairman of German car company Daimler.

Story continues below…

He told the Bild newspaper that Germany and all of Europe needs Turkey.

“Instead of building more and new obstacles until one day Turkey turns away, we need to open the door very widely,” Zetsche said.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:01 July 4, 2011 by marimay
They just want a country to join that has a rapidly growing economy for once.

Hey, Turkey, want to join us on our sinking ship?

The smart answer would be.. hell no.
11:09 July 4, 2011 by Englishted
I hope the answer is hell no.

I want a vote on this and any other expansion,why not ?,

We should take to the streets calling for this idiot to go.
13:25 July 4, 2011 by ame64
This is a terrible idea, Turkey is the last counrtry that should be allowed to join the EU.

Westerwelle will be history next year when the next election is over. The way things are going, both the FDP and the CDU will be out.
13:55 July 4, 2011 by harcourt
Marimay : I think you're right . I've visited Turkey many times in the last 10 yrs and am amazed how prosperous it has become. Far greater prosperity than in MANY countries who are currently WITHIN the European Union. Unfortunately as I expected this topic has brought the prejudiced and bigoted out of the woodwork !
14:03 July 4, 2011 by ovalle3.14
An idealistic position. Turkey would become the 2nd most populous country in the EU (with the respective political power), and keeping Turkey's eastern border under control is, in my humble opinion, not feasible.
14:16 July 4, 2011 by egecan
I am Turkish and I used to be heartbroken or at least sad, when I saw people get over-protective and aggressive the moment they heard the name of my country. But more I get older and have a better understanding of how things work, I'm starting to feel sorry for them instead.

Being grown up in Istanbul, without any specific attention to what was happening in Germany, I was shocked by the level of hate I was exposed just by mentioning that I was from the "ü ü ü - land", when I came to Germany for studying.

What is the thing that makes you say "Turkey is the last country that should be allowed to join the EU" - and even without any justification? Even if there were anything to support that and even if it were completely true, why would anyone have such an attitude when expressing it? Okay, it's not like everyone has it but even if it is one out of ten, they still can manage to stress you out for the rest of the day.

Do not get me wrong: I love it here - even though I'm planning to live somewhere else. I just wanted you to think before saying anything hateful.
15:28 July 4, 2011 by ame64
The Turkish people expect us (the western world) to accept them and their religious freedom. BUT they don NOT accept westerners and churches in their own country.

Catholic priests are hunted down and threatend, churches are burned and freedom of speech does not exist. So why would wo allow such primitive people into the western world.

Take a good look at Turks in Germany, most of them have no intention to integrate themselves here. They dont even try.

Most problems my children have at school are the Turkish children, They cant or dont speak German and they disturb the lessons every 10 minutes. If you try to talk to their parents its like talking to a brick. If the child is a boy then he is allowed to do everything. The teachers are scared to say anything because they could be accused of prejuidice.

As long as such things happen daily, then the border should remain closed!
15:57 July 4, 2011 by egecan
Ame64, you have some fair points. As long as:

You can develop your ideas based on your prejudices. (It was Switzerland which banned mosques. There is no such thing in Turkey. Some people in my family are Christians and I also have some Jew friends. Never seen any of them having difficulty finding a church or a synagogue.)

It is okay to call a nation primitive because of some individual crimes. (You really want to compare nations based on the number of hate crimes? Really? Please read my previous comment. See what I'm complaining about? Good.)

Taking your example set from a group of people who were living isolated from the rest of the world after the war and then got separated from their homeland as they took the offer to work in Germany and have been living here for the most of their lives. If you still think its because of their race, take a look at the Turks in New York. They all speak perfect English and have no integration issues.)

Trying to argue with a person to whom you can go as far as calling a "brick" in the first place. (I mean, why do you think they got so defensive? Teachers do not act even though there is enough evidence to blame those kids? Sorry to tell you but teachers being incompetent means there is something wrong with the whole education system.)

Sarcasm aside, I just want to say this: Even though I don't really think that you can be so full of hate and guess that you just wanted to use stronger language, I sincerely thank you for proving my point.
16:05 July 4, 2011 by funnylocal
Weirdest comment I have ever seen. Referring to ame64's comment.

One should make informed comments and should NOT tell anything unless he/she really knows what he/she is talking about.

Turkey accepts westerners and as of 2008, there are 983,339 people living in Turkey. (http://www.balkanium.com/forum/showthread.php/4547-Population-Statistics-of-Turkey)

Turkey has lots of churches across the country. To be precise, Turkey has 'Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople' in Istanbul which is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world. See also the following link which shows the churches only in Istanbul.


You should at least google and try to find out something about Turkey rather than commenting something which is totally biased and wrong.
16:10 July 4, 2011 by So36
Well said egecan. Don't let the haters get you down.
16:12 July 4, 2011 by ame64

you are right about 1 or 2 things. The teachers are not doing their job right, and also it may be wrong to judge a whole nation based on a handfull of people.

BUT, I only think someone has the intelligence on a brick AFTER talking to them. I never judge before I try.

Switzerland did it the right way, I know you dont want to hear that but its true.

If Turkey became an EU member, the border would go. That would be a huge problem for Germany and other countries.

You cannot compare Turks in the USA. They cant live from social security and free health care, so they have to integrate themselves to get a job.
16:23 July 4, 2011 by harcourt
egecan #6.

Don't get too upset at the attitude of the Germans towards you. It is not because you are Turkish, they tend to behave like that towards all foreigners.
16:23 July 4, 2011 by ame64

I dont need to google on something I already know. Believe it or not, thats totally up to you. At least we have freedom of speech here and religios freedom.

The islamic world is a threat to us, no matter what country they come from. If you cant see that then thats your problem.
16:28 July 4, 2011 by marimay
@ harcourt

Have you also noticed how much more relaxed and less judgmental it is there? People actually smiling for once? lol

I wish I were there instead. This place is too full of ame64s for my taste.


I, too, have had to see the uglier side of this country because of my relationship with a highly educated Turk. Which, in some cases can be worse...
16:55 July 4, 2011 by Zonob
Dear egecan,

They don't want Turkey for only one reason. Because it's a Muslim country. All the other excuses are nonsense. They have accepted into their union countries that are far less able economically speaking. Nothing of what they say makes sense. The hatred they have to your country has only one reason. Your people are Muslims, and they are Christian atheists. Don't be frustrated. I think Turkey will prosper without any need of their union.
17:31 July 4, 2011 by trash head
quote Zonob

> they are Christian atheists


Before the burning tongues and hopeless german bashers here judge on the super evil germans, they might think abt the fact that germany is the only european nation who is since 1963 in cultural and economical contract with the turkey x.x

Further, germany is a nation in europe which try to integrate foreigners instead of building ghettos for them like france or the whole UK.

That there are often problems with the integration is not mystery.

But it seems that especially young turkish ppl(even if born here, so normaly germans) have now big problems in the german enviroment, much more then other foreigners, such like chinese ppl (biggest group after turks in germany).

And there the turkish mentality play an important role, with growing pride of theire parents heritage and a high temper. Both dont fit in here well and so the stress is programmed.

The german society isnt that hatred when it comes to foreign influences as all ppl always want to have iot realized.

But from all foreigners in germany only the here born germans, which turkish parents needs to show the turkish flag, mocking abt the cultures elements here loud in public and start obvious exclusion of them self and ghettoization. The current problems of turkish ppl or ppl with turkish background are selfmade by themself without german contribution to this problems.

When i see how many asian work already in jobs which require a higher education for example in hotel business as teamlead or i see the many black skin colored managers in hamburg i can only smile when erdogan and all his familiy bragging on the trainstation near at theire little restaurant in public around in theire mighty sporty gangaster rapper clothes.

The image of the turks is selfmade. Other immigrants here have much more difficultis and hard backgrounds to start up here, much more then to be born in germany and still being nothing in the society as a Döner vendor because of lazyness in school and wrong placed national pride.
17:42 July 4, 2011 by harcourt
Has anyone noticed, the more desperate contributors become to refute the argument that Germans are Xenophobic the more and more they have to write. Sorry it still doesn't convince us foreigners !!
18:45 July 4, 2011 by crm114
Englishted said, "I want a vote on this and any other expansion,why not ?,"

because of the Lisbon Treaty Article 48, we gave up the option to have any say in future amendments or rather it was given up on your behalf.
19:10 July 4, 2011 by MJMH
Why is it that the West must always bend for the Muslim world. If they don't like the EU rules create your own union. If you don't like the Christian based culture of the West leave.

People who don't have to deal with Turks or any foreigners on a daily basis can afford to be liberal but if you are from an area that has been overrun and was once filled with average everyday working-class, where schools are awful and native children are afraid to walk home, then you might understand ame64.

No doubt those who think what I just wrote was racist have live a privileged life where they only know the few integrated Turks or other non-Europeans that are the exception rather than the rule.

Go ahead and keep your head in the clouds and see the world the way you want it to be and not the way it is.
19:31 July 4, 2011 by harcourt

May be you are not racist, but I know one thing and that is you have a closed mind. I don't think any argument could persuade you that multi-culturalism is the way of the future. Or is it just Islam that you have set your face against.

By the way are talking about Germany when you tell of the horrors of working class areas filled with "foreigners" ?
19:39 July 4, 2011 by So36
What bothers me most about the Turkey haters is there is ZERO difference between Erdogan's supposedly Islamic AK party and the CSU in Bavaria. One want women to be observant Muslims able to wear headscarves and the other wants crucifixes in PUBLIC school rooms. Personally I wouldn't vote for either of them, but stop pretending there's something nefarious about Turkish cultural conservatives. I'd rather have the Turks on the West's side than not. Besides, Istanbul is a great European city. Maybe visit it sometime and drop some of your prejudices.
20:25 July 4, 2011 by Englishted
Turkey would be the first country to have it's capital city not in Europe.

Istanbul was a great European city till 1453,it had one of the greatest cathedrals(St Sophia) in Europe under it's old title Constantinople .

It is still there and when that is returned along with the rest of the land up to the Bosporus to Greece.

We still will not let you in if the politicians ask the people of Europe.
21:28 July 4, 2011 by crm114
harcourt, do you appreciate the irony of what you wrote, his mind is closed because he doesn't see things your way?
22:47 July 4, 2011 by egecan
Dear "Turkish Haters",

Whatever you say, and however you say them won't make me hate you. Hate and stereotyping have only brought harm to any society. You see things from your perspective and from your perspective only and instead of being reasonable and trying to participate in a respectful discussion, you just bring some topics that may just frustrate the opposite side. Nobody does that unless they have some emotional ties with the subject or they just want to troll (you know, the new term for the ones who enjoy being extremely provocative), and I know that you aren't trolls.

That leaves us with only one option, as far as my knowledge goes. You must have had some extremely unpleasant experiences with some foreigners, especially the Turkish. I'm sorry for you that you had to deal with those situations, whatever they were. It is so sad that it has come to a point that you feel like bending yourselves, culturally and socially. It is also sad that your religious freedom, your children safely walking home and whatever else of good value there is that you might find being threatened now seem to be stories from the past, don't they? You also probably feel like disapproving anything they do to keep their identity like the Americans did during world war (By the way, did you read that? It's at http://www.thelocal.de/society/20110704-36063.html .) I understand you. No, really; I definitely do understand you. Maybe you shouldn't have brought the Turkish workers at all or they should have been "smarter" and played nicely with your religion, your kids and your life. It doesn't really matter now and I hope you somehow get your life back.

But there is something I want all of you to understand. Those people have been here since 1960. Turkey back then was a... Um... "Different" place, to say the least. When they started to come, you obviously and also admittedly weren't prepared as you weren't a country which have seen itself as a target for immigrants unlike USA or Australia or wherever... The fact is, the immigrants were not prepared to live here in Germany as well. They had to come to Germany. There simply weren't any jobs for them in Turkey back then. It was like a magic push from God, to quote one of them. So they arrived and the vicious circle had started. Germans didn't understand them. They were weird. They still are, even for me, honestly, and even the most "integrated" ones. Some sort of conflict kept its presence between the German and the Turkish. You had those unpleasant experiences and they had too. (will continue...)
22:52 July 4, 2011 by pselviakcay
I wonder how the Germans will respond.
22:53 July 4, 2011 by egecan
(...continued) It is those differences, that didn't exist in the other immigrants from Europe that pushed you apart. Do you know what happens when people become pushed? I mean, constantly, all their lives? They become extremists. So did they. Do you know what happens when a group acts in an extremist way? Easy: They create the opposition, which, as you might have guessed, also acts and talks in an extreme way.

Now, do you see what is wrong with this approach? Do you understand what I am trying to say or do you see how I feel? I don't ask you for a strong empathy but a glimpse of acknowledgment that this issue may have two sides. Considering myself the Turk who knew nothing but found himself in the middle of everything; we can make that even three.
02:16 July 5, 2011 by lunchbreak
How will the germans respond? They will respond as they have always responded since the war - the upper classes will push for continued cheap turkish labor and the lower classes will have to settle for the increased competition to the labor force and the social problems living in multicultural neighborhoods brings.
03:03 July 5, 2011 by bla bla bla
Although never planned at the beginning, I happened to live & work in Germany for 1.5 years after living in another European country.

On one side, I totally understand the growing sensitivity among Germans (or Europeans) towards overt Muslim lifestyle fuelled by mass media, 9/11, global war on terrorism etc.

Hovewer, having lived in another European country for ~2 years, I can easily compare both & can definitely say overhelming part of Germans (I've met) were openly xenophobic and very ignorant except few great people (I've met). This was an anectodal evidence but hope history will prove me wrong.
07:12 July 5, 2011 by marimay
@ Englishted

Yes, to be fair, lets set the whole world back to its borders of 1453 to appease those who did not play at war well. I am sure Istanbul would be much better off in Greek hands, look at the way Greece thrives today....
07:39 July 5, 2011 by harcourt
crm 114: #23

Yes of course I can see your point - I thought about it as I wrote #20. Can you really see the future of our planet with countries trying to defend their borders against what they perceive as contamination of their cultures by other peoples. It just won't happen, with such easy links by land, sea and air plus the communication via internet and telephone. Our planet is too small and vunerable and if you try to continue down that field it will only lead to armed conflict. I'm sorry but multi-culturalism IS the way of the future.
08:30 July 5, 2011 by Englishted
@ marimay,

Will not be a problem for England ,but what about the U.S.A. ?,you needed our help.
19:45 July 5, 2011 by crm114
harcourt, perhaps you should put a little more thought into what you will write, before you actually write it, nevertheless I defend your right to say it. Nation states seem to have done quite well for themselves over a long period of time by maintaining their borders and cultural identity, your reasoning seems somewhat glib, perhaps you could identify, specifically, why multiculturism is the way? I would argue that it's your brand of warm feeling multiculturism that is actually fuelling conflict rather than the other way around
01:15 July 6, 2011 by MJMH
The problem is cheap labor. Get rid of that and no immigrants will be allowed and multiculturalism will die. Why do you think populist far right parties are getting so popular. Because this recent recession is pushing all the working folk against the wall.
08:17 July 6, 2011 by harcourt
crm 114: #32

I respect YOUR right to say what you believe. Unfortunately you are talking about the past, whereas I hope that I am looking towards the future. Of course if countries/people are innately xenophobic, yes it will fuel conflict.
10:33 July 6, 2011 by LecteurX
crm114... please, over which "long period of time" exactly have "nation states" maintained their borders exactly?

Nation-states are a pretty recent concept; the notion emerged essentially in the 19th century, and still in 1914, there were very few nation states in the world. Until then, states had mostly been a political construct to enable the ruling class to defend their interests. It had really nothing to do with "maintaining borders and cultural identity". Among the very few countries which consistently did so over the course of centuries, you have Japan, and to a lesser extent, China, which stayed mostly closed to foreigners and actively avoided foreign influence in several ways.

In other countries, for example, the European ones, when did people "maintain borders and cultural identity" please? when they spent every second year invading their neighbours and regions with no regard of who lived there and which language the folk spoke, or when all the European nobility spoke French and acted French (think "Sans-Souci") because it was so fashionable?

I love it when people make historical references without having so much as a clue about what they're talking about, and then call other people's reasoning "glib"... haha, priceless.

@MJMH, why do you connect two things that have nothing to do? Yes the recession is pushing working people against the wall, and yes far-right parties become popular. They also became VERY popular indeed in the 1920s and 1930s, in times of crises, when there were very few immigrants to blame... but never mind, eh, this time around let's blame them damn immigrants.
16:03 July 6, 2011 by drast
I live in Turkey at the moment. And I like Turkish people (for the most part. Their driving is pretty irresponsible but, you know, they're not inherently evil people or anything).

However, there are very marked cultural differences between a "western" or "european" subjectivity (let's say) and a Turkish one.

They basically boil down, I think, to the fact that the Ottoman Empire never experienced a Reformation (where Europeans told the corrupt and nasty catholic church to f*!k off) or Enlightenment (where europeans decided science was a better way to approach the world) or class revolution (off with the heads of the aristocracy and yay to the working people).

This never happened in Turkey - even with the founding of the republic, which Turks may think is democratic but which actually discourages necessary elements of social democracy (freedom of speech for example) and which resembles nothing like the democracy I've experienced as a 20/21st century westerner.

Today the country, while experiencing economic growth, is not so great when it comes to the rights and freedoms the west has shed a lot of blood to achieve: journalists get imprisoned for writing things that those in power don't like, others get arrested under (fairly bogus) suspicion of wanting to overthrow the state, women are not regarded as equals (and get honour killed with frequency), workers rights are not protected or enforced, corruption is rife, youtube is often banned, homosexuality is practically invisible, education is not really up to scratch, the rich think they're superior to the poor.

Also: the more "western" Turks living in western Turkey have, in my experience, never even been to the east of their own country. And if forced to live there they would certainly be incredibly unhappy about it.

And perhaps, generally, Turkey is no different to some Eastern European or Baltic countries. I don't know, I've never lived in those. But having come here with a fairly open mind, after 3 years, I really don't think Turks are able to connect with a "western" or "european" subjectivity. The general public have never told their spiritual leaders to f*!k off, they've never told their politial leaders to f*!k off, they've never been able to protest or dissent without fear of retribution, they've never really been given the education or experience to take things into their own hands and make it better.

That's the real problem with letting Turkey into the EU. A population that really don't know enough about the world they want to be part of, and the requirements EU citizenship requires.

My dad was a poor southern european migrant to Australia in the late 60s. He copped a lot of rascist nonsence and discrimination but I think the fact he didn't believe the virgin Mary was actually a virgin meant he was always destined to eventually fit in.
18:09 July 6, 2011 by MJMH
Dear Lecteurx,

Perhaps in the 1930 there wasn't a tie in to immigration but here sure is today. Why do yo think far-right parties are focused on foreigners. My point was and is that mass immigration is caused by the want of cheap labor so the rich can get richer. That was all.
18:46 July 6, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
First of all, why does Westerwelle think he has the authority to invite Turkey into the EU? He's making trips there, and telling them its okay to join without the Chancellor's support. Many still oppose it.

Secondly, it says Davutoğlu is undertaking plans to travel to them Arab world, where "Germany has deep interests". We all know what that means! (Natural resources). It all makes sense now-Westerwelle believes if Turkey joins the EU Germany will have a favorable position in the Arab world.

Lastly....Turkey isn't even in Europe! Why should it be allowed to join the EU? Especially after they invited other countries in a similar position as Turkey, and are now having to bail them out economically.

Let's just let any country in that owns a flag!! It's working great so far.
23:44 July 6, 2011 by crm114
Lecteur, if one accepts your assertion then I would estimate that the long period of time would be around 200 years, even longer if you wish to consider the direction european politics took post 30 Years War, when did the touchy feely brand of muticulturism espoused here start to make itself known , sometime in the late 70's early 80's.As for European examples, the UK, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Albania, Switzerland, Hungary, Armenia, Turkey to name but a few. Nation statehood serves as a culturally unifying force through a shared heritage, language and religion. The maintenance of a border does not in itself preclude the expansion of that border (or indeed loss) the border however remains. Fortunately for Westerwelle and his ilk, he will not be unduly troubled by uncontrolled migration from Turkey, the same cannot be said for the average european.
10:50 July 7, 2011 by LecteurX
@MJMH - Far right parties are focused on hating people and on appealing to the lowest instincts of voters with discourses that fit the flavours of the time. In 1930, they almost all turned their "focus" mostly on communists and Jews. Were they right back then? What would they make them right this time around? That instinct to look for a convenient scapegoat is very human and there are always people ready to exploit that instinct for personal gain. Labour is not any cheaper in Western Europe now than 50 years ago, at the beginning of the latest immigration wave. True, salaries have stagnated over the last 2 decades in Germany (they haven't in Spain or other countries that experienced immigration), but to say that it's all because of immigration, then you'd need to back this up with a study.

@crm114, well, your post is poorly informed yet again. What do you wish to point to with that random list of "European examples"? Since when has the UK been linguistically and religiously uniform? Ask the Scots. Ask the Welsh. Ask the Irish. Éire broke away in 1916 only, after centuries of English rule. Albania? It emerged as a state in 1912 only. There are Albanian minorities in all neighbouring countries. Hungary? Really? Until 1918, Hungary was 3 times as big as it is now, incorporating all of Slovakia, all of Croatia, 1/3 of present-day Serbia, one half of present-day Romania, bits of Ukraine, etc... Hungarians made up less than 50% of the population of the millenium-old Kingdom of Hungary, and were very unhappy about losing all those territories and dominions at the treaty of Trianon. Not that they cared about all those subjugated peoples who finally got their own states. Turkey? Well, sure, after they lost all those Ottoman territories in the Balkans and in the Middle East, after they murdered 1.5 million Armenians and after they drove half a million Greeks out of the country, yes sure the got their nation-state. Well, sort of. But how about the Kurds then? They're not Turks, and we talk about 15-20% of the country's population. Switzerland, as an example of a country with a "shared language"? you've got to be kidding. Are you for real? I do not "wish to consider" history as a back-up, I refer to facts and they point to the slow emergence of nation-states after the Napoleonic Wars, and the process took all the 19th and most of the 20th centuries to come to near-completion. Your point about borders is illogical. Unless you would be a proponent of annexing territories AND committing massive ethnic cleansing like in 1945 or in the Balkans in the 90s... Scary.

And don't get me started in the history of multiculturalism.

It's OK, you're allowed to hate foreigners, I mean, lots of people do and we live in a free country where you don't have to be ashamed about it. But please don't try to justify your feelings with such pathetic claims based on history or even geography. They're wrong. Or read a book or ten and then come back.
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