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Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekend reading tips

Here are some fresh reading tips for those wanting to catch up and reflect on Turkey, the EU, Europe and Islam:

James Traub has an extensive biographical sketch of Turkey's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Davutoğlu, in the New York Times Magazine. He ties the FM's visions and personality to broader issue of the orientation of Turkish foreign policy.

On January 6 & 7, the Harvard International Review published an online feature on Turkey, Europe, and Islam. Among others, the issue contains a piece entitled "Europe was yesterday" by Mabel Berezi of Cornell University, which echoes my concerns about the inward direction taken across the European continent. In Berezi's words:
The current European mood is undeniably national and is eerily backward, rather than forward, looking.
The feature also includes an examination of Turkey-EU relations by Bahrı Yılmaz of Sabancı University and a piece on Turkey and European identity by Dimitris Keridis and Constantine Arvanitopoulos (Panteion University, Athens and University of Macedonia, respectively). Jan Rath of University of Amsterdam debates multiculturalism and Raphaël Liogier shows how Islam has become a "scapegoat for Europe's decadence."

I'm hoping to post a commentary on these articles, but that will have to wait until another day. Perhaps then I will be joined in a discussion by any readers who will then also have read and thought about some of them, too.

MEP Andy Duff's dire FT piece

Andy Duff, a longtime critical supporter of Turkish accession in the European Parliament and now also monthly columnist for the Financial Times, has a long and depressing piece in today's FT. The piece reeks of gloom and pessimism; an unsettling fact for supporters of Turkey's EU bid given Duff's privileged position as a long-time EU insider. Efforts by Parliament and the Commission to move forward on the issue are, in his view, now largely symbolic.
The European Commission continues doggedly to pursue its mandate to negotiate on behalf of the EU, and is doing some good work inside Turkey, but actual progress is far too slow to transform the dynamics of integration.

While continuation of the effort is respected by the European Parliament, it is difficult to find MEPs who are still outright supporters of Turkey’s full membership.
In Duff's opinion, it seems, the Turkish quest for EU membership is all but over. A combination of "enlargement fatigue," failure to move forward on reforms in Turkey, the absence of a solution to the Cyprus issue, and rising Islamophobia in EU member states make for a too formidable obstacle. Duff's only suggestion is for Erdoğan to make use of the "one last chance to swallow his pride" and settle the Cyprus issue (on which, by the way, Duff is much more balanced than most).

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