Putting in a good word for Turkey and the Turks

I couldn’t believe the UKIP Party Political Broadcast (PPB) earlier this week. It really is a new low for a PPB to comprehensively denigrate an entire country and its people.

Turkey first applied to join the EU 29 years ago. They are going through a process, which is subject to ebb and flow, to become an EU member country. Of 35 “chapters” which are needed to be prepared for entry to the EU, Turkey are currently red on four and amber on a large number. There are concerns over Cyprus and human rights, particularly in relation to the Kurds.

Surely, this long deliberative process is a good sign that the EU has robust procedures for entry? That the process itself is encouraging and has encouraged welcome change in Turkey?

Turkey is not about to imminently join the EU, as suggested by the UKIP PPB. It could be decades before they join. Several of the elements highlighted by the PPB are part of the improvement programme needed for the country to move closer to EU membership.

Some of Turkey’s foreign policy and elements of its domestic policy should rightly be criticized.

But could the PPB not at least mention that Turkey has been a loyal and crucial member of NATO since 1952?

Perhaps mention that the Turks are warm and generous hosts to millions of UK tourists who enjoy holidays there?

That they are already members of a series of organisations and initiatives with EU countries?

That if Turkey can achieve reforms to attain EU membership it would be a fantastic bridge between Europe and Asia? – Between the different cultures of west and east? A chance for reconciliation and stretching out, further, the hand of friendship and mutual co-operation?

No – all that gets ignore in a grubby exercise to get people up in arms about another “bogeycountry”.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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16 Comments

  • Antony Hook Antony Hook 5th Feb '16 - 3:35pm

    There is no prospect of Turkey joining the EU within decades. This is pure scaremongering by UKIP and if this is their new strategy it will fail.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Feb '16 - 5:33pm

    The Syria conference in London shows that countries which have received a large number of people in need of help until peace returns. Turkey is one of these.
    This is difficult to forecast, but we can recall that when Lebanon was war-torn Syria was not at war, although under the Baath Party dictatorship of Assad’s father.
    Jordan is another.

  • If UKIP can persuade enough people that Turkey will soon be joining the EU it will certainly help the out campaign. Many people are worried enough about 20,000 muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq entering the UK. Just imagine their fears at the prospect of millions of immigrants from Turkey being allowed in legally. I’ve no time for UKIP, but this is a clever move by them. If the in campaigners defend Turkey it will look like they want them in the EU and if they ignore the UKIP PPB it will look like UKIP are right.

  • jedibeeftrix 5th Feb '16 - 6:33pm

    if we imagine that mexico and turkey switched places, would mexico be in an essentially similar limbo vis a vis eu entry today?

    probably. i think that is a shame, for turkey should gain entry asap if that is their wish.

    why the difference in ambition? because as someone who’d rather see the eu like nafta (plus the four freedoms), i don’t really care that turkey should demonstrate they are like ‘me’.

  • John Barrett 5th Feb '16 - 7:16pm

    Regardless of the UKIP broadcast, which I did not see, there are many concerns about the wisdom of Turkey joining the EU, now or in the future.

    Their record of human rights violations, corruption, their treatment of the Kurds, bombing of the PKK in Syria – who are in the front line against ISIS, to name just a few.

    Those in the party who have concerns that the EU cannot cope with its expansion to date, have genuine concerns that many in the party, including our former leader, appeared to consider future Turkish membership a done deal.

    Even before the current war in Syria and migration crisis, the addition of another porous EU border is something that needs to be discussed in detail and addressed as a matter of urgency.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 5th Feb '16 - 8:42pm

    Hi John,

    I think the 11 years of negotiation in which just one chapter of 35 has been approved show that there is a long way to go before Turkey joins the EU.

    In terms of the broadcast UKIP seemed to be implying that Turkey isn’t Christian enough to join the EU. This is racism. The party also highlighted the number of state islamic faith schools, which are much lower than the proportion of UK faith schools. It was very anti-Turkey and included many misleading and down right ridiculous statistics.

    The Mirror has a story on this http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ukips-party-political-broadcast-misleading-7315550

  • @antony hook

    If people believe there is any chance of turkey joining the in campaign will almost certainly lose. It could easily work.

  • I do get the distinct impression that UKIP are once again leading the ‘debate’, it is unfortunate that many in other parties seem to act like moths drawn to the light and just can’t resist the bait.

    With the UK being in the EU, we will naturally be involved in any process that may change the relationship between Turkey, a Nato ally, and the EU. However, if we leave, we will have no such involvement or say in such matters.

  • Panicos Georgiou 6th Feb '16 - 7:44am

    Perhaps if you mention that our NATO ally Turkey invaded and still occupies 39% of Cyprus in 1974 and embarked upon a program of ethnically cleansing the occupied areas of all Greeks, a policy that Turkey has been using for over 100 years in Turkey.
    Talk about the persecution of Christians and the remaining non-Turkic minorities in Turkey.
    Discuss the lack of freedom of press
    Mention the oppression of the Kurds
    Talk about the funding and support provided to Islamist terror groups by Turkey
    Then you will have a better perspective of Turkey

  • Antony Hook 5th Feb ’16 – 3:35pm………There is no prospect of Turkey joining the EU within decades. This is pure scaremongering by UKIP and if this is their new strategy it will fail…………

    I wish I were as sure. Scaremongering (Labour/SNP alliance) certainly worked in May 2015.
    Cameron has done the ‘In’ campaign no favours with his claims of ‘great negotiation results’….’Brexit’ just have to point to his macho demands of the last few years compared with the reality of what he actually achieved…
    The way to convince a wavering public that ‘In’ is best is with hard facts (economic, political, etc.) not how we forced ‘Johnny Foreigner’ to give us what we want

  • Richard Underhill 6th Feb '16 - 10:52am

    Does anyone when Liberal Democrat federal comference passed a motion supporting Turkish membership of the EU?
    I do remember it passing an emergency motion in support of Kurds in several countries, including Iraq (war-torn) Syria (repressed under Assad’s father) Turkey and others.
    During the 2010-2015 coalition a Tory MP of Kurdish origin came to a fringe meeting at federal conference and I mentioned this old motion in a question, but am not aware of any update.
    Tim Clement-Jones was on the platform and explained that he had visited Iraqi Kurdistan and travelled in an ordinary rickety bus in safety, while the advice on the F&CO website implied that an armoured car would be desirable.
    Basically the Iraqi Kurds were promoting trade.
    It seems unlikely that the Turkish government would agree to autonomy for south-east Turkey.
    On BBC1 Question Time few people had seen the UKIP broadcast and the UKIP MEP got a hard time.
    I have not seen any Christian churches in the north of Cyprus although there are Roman ruins. I have visited a mosque in the south of Cyprus and was told to take my shoes off, which of course I did. There is a huge Byzantine church in Istanbul of historical and architectural importance. At one time it was deemed to be a mosque. Later it became a museum with large Islamic messages inside in Arabic script, as per the Koran. Former President Ataturk had converted Turkey to a Latin alphabet. Would freedom of religion imply its occasional use for Greek Orthodox services at Easter?

  • Richard Underhill 6th Feb '16 - 10:54am
  • Paul
    In British politics, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were pro-Greek and wanted war; the Conservatives in the coalition his government were pro-Turk and rejected war. Lloyd George’s position as head of the coalition became untenable. Furthermore the British public were alarmed by the Chanak episode and the possibility of going to war again. It further undercut Lloyd George that he had not fully consulted the Dominion prime ministers and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Romania gave no support.
    On 23 September 1922, the British cabinet decided to give East Thrace to the Turks, thus forcing Greeks to abandon it without a fight. This convinced Kemal to accept the opening of armistice talks and on 28 September he told the British that he had ordered his troops to avoid any incident at Chanak, nominating Mudanya as the venue for peace negotiations. The parties met there on 3 October and agreed to the terms of the Armistice of Mudanya on 11 October, two hours before British forces were due to attack.
    Under the League of Nations population transfers occured of Greeks and Turks to their respective countries.
    ( Saladin lost in the Eastbourne bye-election in 1990)
    Richard
    The 15 year Lebanon civil war was brought to an end by the occupation of the Syrian Army.
    EU
    According to the German census 2011 there are almost 3 million people having at least one parent immigrated from Turkey. The Turks helped create the West German economic miracle.
    Islam
    Turkey has a kind of separation of church and state unique in the Muslim world.
    It also has the Alevis who follow a mystical form of Islam.

  • Richard 10:52 am
    In the last few decades of the twentieth century there was a remarkable turning to God among a section of the Turkish speaking population of Bulgaria. It was started by some Bulgarian Pentecostal believers sharing the Gospel with Turkish speakers from a despised minority. Some found salvation and healing through Christ and began spreading the Word among their own people. Others came to Christ through dreams and visions. Christian workers went from Turkey and began to seek ways of giving this movement a more Biblical emphasis through Bible teaching and training.
    They found that very few believers could read the Turkish New Testament because they had learned to read in the Bulgarian education system which uses a Cyrillic script. The Translation Trust helped by preparing a Turkish New Testament in the Bulgarian Cyrillic script. The first edition came out in 1992.

  • Dave Eastham 8th Feb '16 - 6:40am

    The Daily Mirror article that Thomas Shakespeare refers to above, is currently showing (08/2/2016) a Straw poll result (which the Mirror always runs with these sort of articles) of 58% of correspondents finding the Kippers Party Political Broadcast as “Offensive”. With the remaining 42% not finding it offensive. Oh Dear!

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