According to this report from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there is much Europe could learn from Turkey if only Turkey were allowed into the EU.
Turkey offers the EU two remedies for alleviating the twin problems of the demographic demise of its native population and growing radicalism among young immigrant Muslims.
“¢ With 72 million Muslims who share the European values of democracy, the rule of law, secularism, and women’s rights (the October 2005 study, Turkey and the EU: Differences, Similarities, and Impact, quantifies the similarity between Turkish and European attitudes on those issues), Turkey is Europe’s ideal partner for growth, especially since the populations of other candidates or prospective candidates for EU membership, such as Bulgaria and Ukraine, are shrinking more quickly than the current EU average.
“¢ As a secular country, Turkey provides Europe with lessons for how to deal with””and perhaps even modernize””Islam. The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, drew inspiration from nineteenth century European thinking in establishing the republic. Just as Turkey learned from Europe in the past, the EU can now turn to Turkey for lessons on dealing with Islam. There has already been some progress in this regard: in February, for instance, the Dutch Ministry of Education approved a plan for the Free University in Amsterdam to offer a master’s degree program for training imams. And the rising French politician Nicolas Sarkozy, who opposes Turkey”s EU membership, has suggested government funding for the construction of mosques.
With even Sarkozy turning to Turkey for lessons, it would help to distinguish between a “Muslim problem” and an “Islamic radicalization problem” in Europe. Were it to do so, the EU would find out that it has much to learn and little to fear from Turkey.
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