Turkey Belongs in the European Union, Bush Says
Susan Jones, CNSNews.com, Jun. 29
(CNSNews.com) — President Bush, calling Turkey a “great and stable democracy,” on Tuesday urged the European Union to admit Turkey to its ranks, a remark that will further infuriate the already miffed president of France.
“Including Turkey in the EU would prove that Europe is not the exclusive club of a single religion. It would expose the ‘clash of civilizations’ as a passing myth of history,” Bush said in a speech in Istanbul.
On Monday, French President Jacques Chirac criticized Bush for urging Turkey’s entry into the European Union. Chirac basically said that Bush should mind his own business.
“It is like me trying to tell the United States how it should manage its relations with Mexico,” Chirac was quoted as saying.
On Tuesday, President Bush said NATO members, at their meeting in Istanbul, “have dedicated themselves to the “advance of reform in the broader Middle East, because all people deserve a just government and because terror is not the tool of the free.”
He praised Turkey for “showing how terrorist violence will be overcome” by a “just and tolerant society.”
“Turkey is a strong secular democracy,” President Bush said — “a majority Muslim society and a close ally of free nations.” He said Turkey’s democratic tradition “stands as a model to others and is Europe’s bridge to the wider world.”
He noted that Turkey is “moving rapidly” to meet the European Union’s criteria for membership.
“America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union,” Bush said. “Your membership would also be a crucial advance in relations between the Muslim world and the West, because you are part of both.”
A year and a half ago, European leaders said Turkey would have to improve its human rights record before negotiations could begin for Turkey’s membership in the EU. Turkey accused the EU of “prejudice” against Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation.
In December 2002, President Bush called French President Jacques Chirac and urged him to speed up negotiations for Turkish membership, but to no avail.