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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turkey will be in the EU, says Sweden's foreign minister - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt continues to express support for Turkey's EU membership bid. As I previously noted, on Dec 10 last year Bildt wrote a NYT op ed together with the foreign ministers of Finland, UK, and Italy in which they expressed their support for Turkish membership.

And in a recent interview with the Turkish TV channel Skyturk, Bildt reiterated his views. As reported by Hürriyet Daily News, Bildt argued that
Historical experience shows that a democracy that knocks on the door of the democratic European Union will at the end of the day never be refused
I think that Bildt is doing an important job - if for no other reason than to let supporters of both continued reforms and eventual EU membership in Turkey know that they have friends in the EU. While I have heard him make the argument in Swedish media on at least one occasion, I have not noticed him being quite as active in Sweden as he has been in international and Turkish media. It may well be that I have missed something, so I don't want to press this point. But it does point to a more general challenge for supporters of Turkish EU membership in EU member states: making the case for a Turkish membership at home.

Generally speaking, this is a massive task since public opinion is on the whole quite skeptical, and in some member states downright hostile. Especially in the current climate of increased hostility toward immigrants and Muslims, it appears few EU leaders want to or dare to take this fight. But if Turkey is to be accepted by all member states (a requirement for new members), then those leaders who do not object to Turkish membership need to take the domestic public-opinion-bull by the horns and make the case.

Here's a link to an article about the interview with Swedish FM Bildt (I have not myself been able to find the interview on Skyturk; if anyone has a link I would be very grateful for it): Turkey will be in the EU, says Sweden's foreign minister - Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

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