X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Blogs Coffee House

Britain’s stated aim of getting Turkey to join the EU is mad

14 October 2013

3:43 PM

14 October 2013

3:43 PM

Rather to my embarrassment, I find that I missed last night’s episode of the BBC2 three-part series on The Ottomans, Europe’s Muslim Conquerors, in which I briefly featured. So Heaven knows what I actually said in it; it’s been a while since filming. But I’m rather hoping that the point I wanted to get across did, viz, that it’s nuts, barking mad, insane, away with the fairies, for Britain to be agitating for Turkey to be part of the EU. On David Cameron’s last visit to Turkey in 2010, he expressed anger at the delay in Turkey’s admission to the Union and blamed opponents for playing on fears of Islam in order to advance their case. Which more or less mirrors the rhetoric from Labour on the same subject. Turkey=moderate Islam in the Foreign Office view of things, so embracing Turkey is a means of promoting the kind of Islam we like rather than the sort we don’t, with happy consequences at home. They think.

Actually, I take issue even with that assumption that Turkey’s contemporary form of Islam is invariably tolerant, moderate, inclusive and generally consistent with our own prejudices; it doesn’t quite square with a close examination of the rhetoric and practice of Prime Minister Erdogan, especially in the wake of his own Istanbul Spring earlier this year, to which he gave rather short shrift.

[Alt-Text]


The very basic point I was trying to make, though, was that EU membership brings with it the right to live and work anywhere within the Union. So in theory, upwards of 75 million people would have the right to settle anywhere they like in the EU; it’s a reasonable assumption, given the size of the Turkish community in Britain, that quite a few would want to settle here, though less than the number that would gravitate to Germany.

According to last week’s figures, some 600,000 people from within the EU are living off benefits in Britain at present; as a sort of grown up parlour game, what would be your guess of how much the figure might increase if Turkey were to join the EU, with bonus points for the likely figure if its economy were to decline and give a spur to further emigration? Or, more to the point, how many would emigrate here to work, thereby increasing pressure on homes and services? In fairness to the Turks, I should point out that quite a significant body of opinion there is against EU membership anyway and in the wake of the Eurozone debacle one can’t really blame them.

Then there’s the delicate issue of just how European Turkey is. According to the brute yardstick of geography, about three per cent of the country is on the European side of the Bosphorus. Which means, does it not, that 97 per cent is on the Asian side. Are we really that keen on having a semi-permeable EU land border with Iraq and Syria. Really? Truly? It goes without saying that its size and position are precisely what make Turkey a crucial regional power and why the US is so very keen on Turkey joining the EU (Condoleezza Rice was especially emphatic about it) but this, I feel, is one on which Britain’s very special friend should be told where to get off.

Of course now, whenever I raise the subject with people from government, I get told, sotto voce, that ‘it’s not going to happen’. Which makes you wonder about the coherence of a foreign policy where the stated and actual aims of government are so very much at odds. The trouble about Britain being so publicly and passionately in favour of Turkey in the EU is that eventually it may get what it wished for. The consequences for immigration, for social cohesiveness, for community relations, here and still more in Germany, really don’t bear thinking about.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close