American Hellenic Institute

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The European Union: Future Relations with Cyprus and Turkey
December 3, 1998 No. 52/98 (202) 785-8430


On December 2, 1998 Mr. James Moorhouse, Member of the European Parliament and Ranking Member of the External Economic Relations Committee, gave a presentation at the American Hellenic Institute on the subject of the enlargement of the European Union and the implications for Cyprus and Turkey.

Mr. Moorhouse briefed the audience on the sentiments of the European Parliament during the early 1990's. He claims that few members of the European Parliament understood Turkey's political, human rights and security situations. As a result, Turkey's acceptance into the customs union reflected Parliament's good-natured view of the country at that time. The view turned negative when the Turkish elected government was effectively forced out of power by the army.

In essence, "Turkey is not truly a democracy in the sense that we wish it to be or would wish it to be if they were part of [the EU]." He stressed that he was not judging Turkey's domestic policies but he did not feel Turkey fit the mold of a democracy as defined by the European Union. Mr. Moorhouse articulated that this view was not an issue of Christianity versus Islam. Turkey successfully fulfilled the customs union requirements but after further review, the EU concluded that it remained behind in political reform and human rights progress.

He also explained that the EU could not financially absorb a country as large as Turkey unless it met certain economic standards. For example, the standard of living is significantly lower in Turkey than the other countries in the EU. If Turkey were allowed into the EU, those problems would shift from EU foreign aid to domestic issues. Consequently, absorbtion would induce unneccessary stresses on the EU economy.

Mr. Moorhouse believes that unless the European Parliament sees significant changes in Turkey's actions, specifically in the human rights area, it will not be allowed into the EU. Regarding Cyprus, Mr. Moorhouse claimed that it is a strong candidate despite its illegal occupation by Turkey. He concludes that a solution to the Cyprus problem is unnecessary for its entry into the EU.

The presentation ended with a series of lively questions and debate between Mr. Moorhouse and the audience. The questions ranged from possible Turkish constitutional revisions to the quality of evidence neccessary to convince the EU that Turkey has changed for the better.