Is Turkey ready to join the European Union?
When Yanos Gramatidis, the president of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, looks west from his homeland, he sees an economically ravaged European Union. To the east, he sees a fast-growing Turkey.
But what he doesn't see are the deadly police protest crackdowns in the streets of Istanbul that have caused many to question whether Turkey is ready to join the bloc of European countries.
“The EU gave Turkey time for reforms before it can come in and live up to EU standards knowing this would take ages,” the Greek official told International Business Times on a recent afternoon in New York City. “But Turkey needs help.”
In other words, if the EU is concerned about the violence between anti-government protesters and police that has left as many as five dead and thousands injured then the best way for the 27-country political union to deal with that problem would be to accept Turkey as a member. That would give the EU the leverage necessary to force the Turkish authorities to show more respect for human rights and more restraint in the face of domestic protests. Such a course of action would offer the added advantage of letting Europe benefit from Turkey's economic vitality.