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David Cameron and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Sucking up to Turks is a waste of time. Turkey has some of the smartest politicians and diplomatists around and hearing warm words about how right they are is pointless. David Cameron's attack on Israel for turning Gaza into a "prison camp" in a speech in Ankara would not have impressed the Turks and rightly upset Israel and the Jewish community.

The Turks can hear language like that any day of the week from the flow of Israel-hating regional leaders who now flock to Ankara. What the Turks wanted from the new prime minister is concrete action to help Turkey realise its EU ambitions and for Britain to relax its onerous visa regime which makes it hard for Turkish businessmen, academics, students and the nation's growing middle class to come to Britain.

But Mr Cameron has just imposed a protectionist upper limit on non-EU citizens who will be allowed to enter Britain. Since most of those visas will be nabbed by North Americans and the old, i.e. white Commonwealth countries the chances of Turks or many citizens of countries east of the Bosporus getting into Britain get slimmer by the day.

On Europe, Mr Cameron can offer even less help. As part of his Eurosceptic ideology he withdrew his Conservative Party from the broad alliance of centre-right governing parties in Europe where key leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel, Poland's Donald Tusk, EU Commission and Council presidents, José Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy meet in conclave to discuss and decide EU policy.

Mr Cameron and his Foreign Secretary William Hague judged this grouping to be too pro-European and instead found allies in ultra nationalist parties in East Europe to create a small European political grouping called Conservatives for European Reform. The Turkish ruling AK party has links of a sort with the main centre-right alliance.

In the past Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to present his Islamist party as a kind of latter-day version of post-war Christian democratic parties. There is something in the analogy but Christian Democracy has always accepted the Enlightenment settlement of separation of faith from state. It is far from clear that the AK party and Mr Erdogan himself understands and wants to practise this core element of European democracy.

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Riaz Ahmad
August 14th, 2010
11:08 PM
The fact of the matter is that majority of Turkish population is against joining EU. Leading Western economist all agree that in a decade, Turkey will have an economy matching the largest EU economies. If Europe wants energy security than only Turkey can provide it. Turkey can easily do with out EU, it is Europe that will need Turkey desperately. Times have changed, center of gravity of economic power is no longer in the west, it has gone back to the east where it always was right till 1820. US, the leader of the west is bankrupt, its days as super power are dwindling by the day. If in doubt, ask David Cameroon, why he went cap in hand to India with an army of businessmen?

August 3rd, 2010
11:08 AM
White commonwealth countries? What is a white commonwealth country? Look, the simple fact is this country benefits more from allowing immigrants in from "white commonwealth countries" than it does from letting in immigrants from Islamic societies that have next to nothing in common with this country. Personally, if I was you guys Id prefer immigrants from "white commonwealth countries" simply because you know they will be able to integrate with this country because of their shared cultural heritage and values. Mailman

August 2nd, 2010
7:08 PM
Sorry, but why should the UK support Turkey's entry into the EU? Where's the upside for the UK?

August 2nd, 2010
6:08 PM
The article started off fairly sane and ended in insane asylum. Antisemitic Limdems part is my favorite. Khalid Mahmood of The Five Myths Muslims Must Deny fame is clearly an entertaining person.

Roger Cohen
August 2nd, 2010
5:08 PM
Not a good week for Foreign Affairs so far as the PM is concerned. Apart from getting Gaza so terribly wrong, there is the Pakistan issue which has gone so badly. Turkey,it seems, has a lower life expectancy than Gaza.

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