Monday, October 03, 2005

no progress on turkey

British enthusiasm for the inclusion of Turkey in Europe is fueled, Madeline Bunting says, by:

"the tantalising possibility of exorcising the "clash of civilisations" ghost. If there was a secular, democratic, economically successful Muslim state it would kill off intense arguments about the incompatibility of Islam with democracy or Islam with human rights and modernity. Furthermore, 80 million Turks within the EU would also kill off the EU's credibility deficit in the Muslim world, where it's seen as a Christian, white club with a dodgy imperial past (although the latter is as much a Turkish problem as a European one in the region). Finally - the coup de grace - it would strengthen the claim of Europe's 15 million-strong Muslim minority to a home in Europe. In sharp contrast to the US, Europe could shape a new, prosperous and peaceful accommodation between Islam and the secular west."

just a quick reminder that very occasionally Blair's government has a completely sensible, not to say visionary approach to foreign affairs. And, on these occasions...

Britain today warned of a "catastrophe" for the European Union as a ceremony marking the start of negotiations on Turkey joining the 25-strong bloc was postponed indefinitely.

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said the talks could not proceed in the face of Austria's opposition to full Turkish membership. Mr Straw said the EU was "standing on the edge of a precipice".

No new date for the discussions, which had been due to start at 4pm today, was given immediately.


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