09 September 2005

Straw on Turkey's EU candidacy

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw believes that Europe needs Turkey. Why?

Mr Straw believes its entry into the union would be a blow to those who say there is a "clash of civilisations" between the Muslim world and the West. "It will prove that a secular democracy which shows respect for Islam can live comfortably in Europe," he said. . . .

"Turkey is a secular nation with a majority Muslim population. By welcoming Turkey we will demonstrate that Western and Islamic cultures can thrive together as partners in the modern world - the alternative is too terrible to contemplate."

This strikes me as a bit rash. It makes little sense to push for the membership of one country — especially one with Turkey's record — in the European Union just to disprove Samuel Huntington's now famous theory. If Straw can think of no better reason than this, then it would seem unwise to move forward on something with possible negative ramifications for scores of millions of people. Surely there are other, less risky ways to test an hypothesis? Presenting a paper at an academic conference comes to mind as a way to begin.

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