It continued dialogue begun ten years ago between the EU and its Mediterranean neighbors.
The meeting provided first indications of Merkel’s approach to the question of Turkish EU membership. Merkel is well known for her position on a “privileged partnership” for Turkey—instead of full EU membership. In an interview before meeting with Erdogan, Merkel described herself as an “honest broker” for relations with Turkey. She emphasized, however, that she has her convictions on the issue.
In her Madrid meeting with Erdogan, Merkel reassured him that Germany would honor the commitment made by her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, on the start of negotiations for Turkish membership in the European Union. There had been concerns that Merkel would retract Germany’s affirmative vote given on the issue in early October.
After the brief talk with Erodgan, Merkel shared her impression with reporters that “things were developing well.” In the past, Turkish media have been very critical of Merkel for offering only a “privileged partnership” with the EU instead of full membership.
Merkel’s confirmation that Germany would honor its vote on the start of negotiations with Turkey was important after the agreement was nearly blocked by Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel in early October. Schüssel, who in the past has also voiced his support for a “privileged partnership” for Turkey, argued that negotiations should include mention of some alternative in case Turkey does not meet the requirements for EU membership. According to Schüssel, without any alternative Turkey would be left “in a black hole” if negotiations were to fail.
In her first policy statement before the Bundestag as chancellor, Merkel clarified on November 30, 2005 her government’s position on Turkish EU membership.
“Europe is not possible without the support and trust of its citizens. We have to be careful not to give people the impression that they are being overburdened. For that reason we must give special care that countries joining the European Union fulfill all conditions without exception. That has to be the prerequisite if we want to expand the European Union. That is what we have decided in our coalition agreement: The negotiations begun on October 3, 2005 between the European Union and Turkey with the goal of membership are an open-ended process that does not justify involuntary reactions and whose outcome cannot be guaranteed in advance. If the EU is unable to expand or if Turkey is not able to fulfill all requirements for membership, then Turkey should be tied as closely as possible to Europe’s structure in further developing her privileged relationship with the European Union.”
While the outcome of negotiations on Turkish EU membership is yet undetermined, the EU-Mediterranean summit showed how poorly the EU is doing with its Mediterranean neighbors in the area once controlled in part by the Turkish Ottoman empire. Other than Erdogan and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, none of the other Islamic leaders from the Mediterranean region attended the summit.
The meeting also nearly ended in an impasse over terrorism, and a joint communiqué could only be issued after all reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was deleted from the text. The communiqué’s vague wording on terrorism—”Terrorism can never be justified”—left much to be desired, since terrorism itself was not defined.
Arab League secretary Amr Mussa commented that a difference had to be made between the killing of innocent civilians and resistance to an occupying power, a reference that included both Israel in the occupied territories and the United States in Iraq.
Turkey , whether as a full member of the EU or in a special privileged relationship with Europe as a non-Arab Muslim country, could prove to be a valuable source of influence by the EU on the Muslim-dominated areas of the Middle East and northern Africa. But Turkish membership also poses dangers.
Bible prophecy reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to become King of Kings over all the earth the city of Jerusalem will be occupied by a combination of nations hostile to anyone who is supportive of its Jewish residents (Zechariah 14:1-3 Zechariah 14:1-3 1 Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you.
2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
American King James Version×). Jesus will fight against and destroy the armies of those nations. Since Europe already tends to take a pro-Arab stance in regard to most Arab-Israeli tensions, could it be drawn into that future conflict over Jerusalem—to fight against Jesus Christ?