Friday, September 22, 2006

Turkey making a case against it joining the EU

Turkey wishes to join the European Union and it's likely that the majority of the peoples of the EU, oppose such a move.

The United States has strongly supported the application by Muslim Turkey, a country that was a staunch ally during the Cold War but Turkey is hardly helping its case.

On Thursday, the trumped up charge against Elif Shafak, Turkey's most celebrated woman novelist, of "denigrating Turkishness", collapsed in a matter of minutes before a court. It highlights again the argument for the abolition of an article that has no place in the penal code of a country that wishes to join the European Union.

Shafak, a writer who also teaches at the University of Arizona in the US, was charged with infringing Article 301 of the penal code, which makes a joke of Turkey as a country that wishes to be regarded as part of modern Europe.

A character in her recent novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, referred to the mass murder of more than one million Armenians in 1915 as "genocide". The case was similar to one last year, when Orhan Pamuk, the world-renowned novelist, had complained about Turkey's conspiracy of silence on the fate of the Armenians. The charges against him were also dismissed on a technicality. In May this year, a court upheld a suspended sentence against Hrant Dink, an ethnic Armenian editor who, could be imprisoned if he is deemed to insult Turkishness in the next five years.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoganMr Erdogan, who is disliked the army-dominated secular establishment, is unwilling to change the penal code ahead of new elections next year.
Turkish entry talks are already in stalemate over the issue of Cyprus.

However, on the penal code, the government seems blind to the damage that is being done to its case in Europe.