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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Turkish German's truth: 'It's not us and them' | The Globe and Mail

Interesting interview with the co-leader of the German Green Party, Cem Özdemir, about multiculturalism, citizenship, and integration of Turkish immigrants (and their children) in Germany.
He has two urgent messages. To ethnic Germans, he says: Forget the debate about culture; it’s over. Let’s talk about how to turn everyone living in Germany into a full citizen. To Turks, he says: Forget about Turkey. You’re German now, not part of a long-forgotten homeland’s diaspora. Start acting like it, learn the language and become citizens.

Austria to hold referendum on Turkish EU accession

"What's with Austria?!?" This was how a colleague of mine responded to yesterday's post about the cross-national variation in levels of support for Turkish EU-accession. (Austria is, by far, least supportive of EU member states.) It is a valid question.

And the extremely low level of support for Turkish EU membership in the country has political consequences. Understandably, Austrian politicians are reluctant to take a stand and try to push through such an unpopular issue. The natural - albeit cowardly - response is to "let the people decide." Austrian Chancellor has used the occasion to reaffirm its decision to put Turkey's EU bid before the Austrian people EurActiv Turkey reports:

"Even in the case of a positive decision after the negotiations between the EU and Turkey, we will organise a referendum in Austria on this topic," Faymann was quoted as saying by Turkish daily Hürriyet.
In all honesty, it is overly generous to present this as a response by the Austrian leadership to existing popular sentiments. There is probably an element of this - collective memories of 1683 perhaps - but the two largest parties as well as much of the media establishment is resolutely against letting Turkey in. On this issue, they are as much the leaders of opinion as they follow it.

Of course, Austria is not alone. France has taken a similar position on the issue of referendam, and for Turkey this clearly spells trouble. The accession of a new member state requires the consent of all existing members. Thus, EurActiv phrasing of the Turkish reaction to the Austrian Chancellor's statement - made on the occasion of Turkish President Abdullah Gül's visit to the country no less - is probably somewhat of an understatement):
 The statement apparently left Ankara unimpressed.
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