10/01/2005, 00.00
TURKEY – EU
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Armenians, Hebrews and Christians urge the EU: hasten Turkey's entry negotiations

by Mavi Zambak

The Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II has written to Shroeder, Merkel and all European parliamentarians: Turkey's entry is the way to reinforcing East-West dialogue and to building peace against terrorism.

Ankara (AsiaNews) – The Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II, spiritual leader of Turkey's largest non-Muslim community, has written an anxious letter for help and intercession to Gerhard Schroeder and Angela Merkel, asking them to hasten the process for Turkey's entry into the European Union. The letter was also addressed to 732 European members of parliament and to ministers of European nations.

The patriarch's letter was prompted by the absence of reasonable agreement between EU foreign affairs ministers and Turkey two days before negotiations are set to start. Austria – up against the unanimous consensus of 24 member states – is opposed to giving the green light for negotiations, which have been stalled for some time now on its demand not to offer Turkey more than privileged partnership.

To find a solution to satisfy Vienna's reluctance, an emergency meeting of foreign affairs ministers of the 25 was called Sunday in Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, all national newspapers in Turkey are talking about sabotage and high treason.

"A Damocles sword", which appears never to go on forever, creating tensions and aversion with regard to Europe. Running titles in red letters, many newspapers – fearful that Europe is backtracking – claim events show the "European Christian club" is not to be trusted; the club which does not keep its promises and stabs you in the back.

The nationalists, who until a few days ago, had not hesitated to slam Prime Minister Erdogan for being too friendly with the Europeans and of selling Turkey and leading it to suicide, seem to be the only ones to rejoice about the situation.

Christian Turks fear a refusal to start the entry process of Turkey into Europe could lead to negative repercussions for them.

The Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II wrote his letter, which was made public today, even before he got to know about the verdict of the 25 European ambassadors. In the letter, he claims to speak in the name of the Armenians as well as the Hebrews, Syrians, Greeks, Chaldeans and Protestants, who strongly desire that Turkey becomes a member of Europe for the following reasons.

"At this important juncture of the history of mankind," writes the Patriarch, "we believe this decision is important not only for European policy, but that it has global implications too.

"In these days, when we hear talk about clashes between the civilizations of East and West, between Christians and Muslims, when we see how terrorism is destroying peace among civilizations, we think that the most basic objective of the European Union should be that of seeking to cultivate a 'reconciliation between civilizations' and a multi-cultural society, as we – especially Christians of the East – ardently desire.

"We Christians of the East, who for centuries have lived in a Muslim word, can testify to this endeavour, and fortified by long experience, we can affirm that this event could be significantly enriching for Christians in the West who have started to live with Muslims and to experiment a multi-ethnic lifestyle only recently.

"Our experience tells that the entry of Turkey – which has a majority Muslim population – in the European Union, is a vital step towards a world of peace. Turkey's aspiration to be part of Europe is an opportunity – not for Turks alone, or for Europeans, but for world peace – which we should certainly not allow to pass us by.

"We are aware Turkey must yet face difficult trials in entry negotiations, but we know they are indispensable and necessary for world peace.

"And you, as one who works for western peace, must help us.

"The pressure recently exerted to postpone Turkey's entry negotiations worries us and we fear that those who oppose it and who nurture attitudes of suspicion, may disrupt the road to democracy, making Turkey turn in on itself.

"We pray for the success of the process of civilization and peace in the European Union and so that Turkey and the Armenian Christians, who make up the country's largest non-Muslim community, may find their right place in it."

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