A Message to Ankara: Open Up to Free Trade (or Forget Europe)

A Message to Ankara: Open Up to Free Trade (or Forget Europe)

On Wednesday 8 November, the European Commission recommended that the Turkish membership talks proceed through to the end of the year. But, how long should the Turkish EU membership talks last? Given the embarrassingly weighty opposition and the lack of serious commitment by any other EU member state to fully back the Turkish government, why are the discussions still set to continue? Since Turkey shows little willingness to embrace the free exchange of ideas (opposed by Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code) or free exchange of labour (opposed by closure of airports to Greek Cypriots) or free exchange of trade (opposed by breaking the customs union agreement), why have European states not walked away from the negotiation table before now?

The day should have been up for Turkey since it does not seem ready to open its doors to Cyprus. After a year or negotiations, it continues to block off trade with Cyprus. In the past few days, the EU was expected to have called a judgement on whether Turkish membership talks should halted based on the resistance to trade with Cyprus. The publicly evasive EU has now moved that judgement day until December, when the European Council are due to meet. 

So, the laboured Turkish membership discussions are still continuing. Despite resistance from Turkey to amend any of its current legislation, the EU is ploughing on with the membership talks. With Turkey still blocking airports and ports to Greek Cypriots, offering no reform of Article 301 (currently a major curb to free expression), and a stagnancy on amending human and property rights standards, the Finnish presidency has been desperately attempting to patch together a diplomatic deal.

However, since Turkey refuses to recognise the importance of its opposition to Cypriot trade, it is likely that the talks will lead nowhere. In fact, even the European Union itself sees the opening up of ports (and airports) as a necessary condition for talks to continue, as well as handing over small Northern Cypriot territories to UN and EU administrations. Accordingly, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel warned that if Turkey could not address the Cypriot trade issue, the talks would prove worthless.

“We need the implementation of Ankara protocol on the freedom of movement of goods also with Cyprus. Otherwise, a very, very serious situation arises regarding the continuation of the accession talks […] I appeal to Turkey that it does everything in order not to end up in such a situation and in order not to lead the European Union into such a situation” said Merkel.

It is time for Turkey to make things happen on Cypriot trade, or to forget the European talks. More to the point, it is urgent that the German-Finnish-EU triad issues an ultimatum – ‘open up to free trade or leave the talks.’ What’s more, it would be a perfect occasion on which to offer this advice. Given this situation, what did the EU choose to do? The European Commission has chosen to extend the meaningless discussions until the end of this year.

On Thursday 2 November, the next-step Turkish EU membership talks were cancelled. The Greeks would not attend. In reaction to the perceived absence of the Greeks, the Turkish refused to attend. Whatever the reason, these talks are long overdue and the absence of Cyprus from the negotiation table is completely understandable. It must be extremely difficult for Cyprus since, in the background, the Greek Cypriots are the legitimate heirs of the island of Cyprus; the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is nothing but an illegitimate rabble of Ottoman henchmen.

From the position of Greek Cypriots, it would be pointless to attend another set of talks with Turkey if it cannot open up ports to Greek Cypriots in addition to settling disagreements on Turkish ownership over Greek Cypriot land. (The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is still not internationally recognized precisely because of its illegitimacy following the invasion of Cyprus). Thus, it is notable that Cyprus probably will continue to refuse to turn up to meaningless talks with Turkey since nothing of any substance is being said.   

Of course, when the European Council sit in December, they are unlikely to say anything of significance. By shifting the goalposts forward, the EU will be as evasive as ever in making any firm and substantial rejection. The EU Finnish presidency calls it ‘diplomacy’; most others call it fraud. Sure, Rome was not built in a day but I’m positive that the first brick of Rome was laid within the first year of its founding.

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) likes to appear moderate, but look carefully at its stated goal:

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) likes to appear moderate, but look carefully at its stated goal:

Goal
The goal of ICNA shall be to seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT) through the struggle of Iqamat-ud-Deen (establishment of the Islamic system of life) as spelled out in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)  http://www.icna.org/icna/goals-objectives/goal-program-5.html

There are many things about the Islamic system of life spelled out in the Koran and the Sunnah, but they are in no way compatible with the American Constitution. 

One thing spelled out in the Koran is that women should be beaten if the husband suspects disloyalty (4:34).

Another thing spelled out in the Koran is that it is unlawful for a Moslem believer to kill another Moslem believer (the implication being that apparently it is o.k. to kill a non-Moslem) (4:92).

Another thing spelled out in the Koran is that Moslems must make war on non-Moslems until Islam reigns supreme (i.e. establishment of the Islamic system of life) (8:40, 2:193).  

Another thing spelled out in the Koran is that all non-Moslems are the worst of animals and vilest of creatures (98:6 and 8:55). 

Another thing spelled out in the Koran is that Moslems must be kind to one another but ruthless towards non-Moslems (48:29).

And there are many more similar guides to Islamic behavior spelled out in the Koran and the Sunnah which all non-Moslems should be familiar with in order to know what the “establishment of the Islamic system of life) means.

For more on the Islamic Circle of North America and its ties to Moslem supremacists and extremists, see:

http://www.discoverthenetwork.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=6380.

Students attack Pledge of Allegiance

UN “celebrating” Dem victory?

UN “celebrating” Dem victory?The New York Sun’s blog It Shines for All notices a certain item in the UN’s Morning Headlines publication, in which the Democrats’ victory is (to its eye) almost celebrated.

Why is the U.N. commenting on member state elections? We’re told that this isn’t normally done. So why is the Republican loss worthy? It’s almost celebratory. Does the U.N. think they’ll get more support now?

And look who the U.N. quotes. Largely leftwing press. AP, BBC, NYT … And the one editorial they quote? The New York Times. Go figure. (Why anyway is an editorial worth including? It’s certainly not “morning headlines” it’s “morning opinion.”)

To my eyes, the language used barely stays within the realm of the defensible. But violating usual practices by choosing to cover this event and the choice of sources to quote form a pattern along with the subtleties of linguistic tone. This edition of Morning News is a pretty clear indicator of official UN hostility to President Bush.

Because it unintentionally reveals a negative attitude, I think it is fair to call this issue of Morning Headlines a “botched publication.”

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson   11 9 06

Let’s Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals

Let’s Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals
By Joseph Loconte and Michael Cromartie
Wednesday, November 8, 2006; A27

It was in 1976 — the “year of the evangelical,” according to Newsweek — that conservative Christians burst upon the political landscape. Critics have been warning about the theocratic takeover of America ever since. Thus the plaintive cry of a Cabinet member in the Carter administration: “I am beginning to fear that we could have an Ayatollah Khomeini in this country, but that he will not have a beard . . . he will have a television program.”

This election season produced similar lamentations — Howard Dean’s warning about Christian “extremism,” Kevin Phillips’s catalogue of fears in “American Theocracy” and brooding documentaries such as “Jesus Camp,” to name a few. This theme is a gross caricature of the 100 million or more people who could be called evangelicals. But the real problem is that it denies the profoundly democratic ideals of Protestant Christianity, while ignoring evangelicalism’s deepening social conscience.

Evangelicals led the grass-roots campaigns for religious liberty, the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage. Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day. The only people who want a biblical theocracy in America are completely outside the evangelical mainstream, their influence negligible.

So as Jerry Falwell and other ministers were jumping into politics, leaders such as Charles Colson — former Nixon aide turned born-again Christian — were charting another path. In 1976 Colson launched Prison Fellowship, a ministry to inmates, to address the soaring crime problem. Today it ranks as the largest prison ministry in the world, active in most U.S. prisons and in 112 countries. “Crime and violence frustrate every political answer,” he has said, “because there can be no solution apart from character and creed.” No organization has done more to bring redemption and hope to inmates and their families.

Evangelical megachurches, virtually unheard of 30 years ago, are now vital sources of social welfare in urban America. African American congregations such as the Potter’s House in Dallas, founded by Bishop T.D. Jakes, can engage a volunteer army of 28,000 believers in ministries ranging from literacy to drug rehabilitation. Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” has organized a vast network of churches to confront the issue of AIDS. “Because of their longevity and trust in the community,” Warren has said, “churches can actually do a better job long-term than either governments or” nongovernmental organizations in tackling the pandemic.

Whether or not that’s true, these evangelicals — Bible-believing and socially conservative — are redefining social justice. They’re mindful of the material conditions that breed poverty and despair, but they emphasize spiritual rebirth. Though willing to partner with government agencies, they prefer to work at the grass roots, one family at a time.

Meanwhile, churches and faith-based organizations are growing enormously in their international outreach. Groups such as World Vision are often the first responders to natural disasters. The Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations, founded in 1978, now boasts 47 member groups in dozens of countries. As anyone familiar with these organizations knows, they help people regardless of creed, race or sexual orientation — another democratic (and evangelical) ideal.

It is surely no thirst for theocracy but rather a love for their neighbor that sends American evangelicals into harm’s way: into refugee camps in Sudan; into AIDS clinics in Somalia, South Africa and Uganda; into brothels to help women forced into sexual slavery; and into prisons and courts to advocate for the victims of political and religious repression.

Indeed, probably no other religious community in the United States is more connected to the poverty and suffering of people in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that evangelicals offer moral ballast to American foreign policy. “[E]vangelicals who began by opposing Sudanese violence and slave raids against Christians in southern Sudan,” he wrote recently in Foreign Affairs, “have gone on to broaden the coalition working to protect Muslims in Darfur.”

Of course it’s true that a handful of Christian figures reinforce the worst stereotypes of the movement. Their loopy and triumphalist claims are seized upon by lazy journalists and the direct-mail operatives of political opponents.

Yet it is dishonest to disparage the massive civic and democratic contribution of evangelicals by invoking the excesses of a tiny few. As we recall from the Gospels, even Jesus had a few disciples who, after encountering some critics, wanted to call down fire from heaven to dispose of them. Jesus disabused them of that impulse. The overwhelming majority of evangelicals have dispensed with it as well. Maybe it’s time more of their critics did the same.

Joseph Loconte is a distinguished visiting professor at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy. Michael Cromartie is vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. They co-direct the Evangelicals and Civic Life program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The EU-Turkey romance is on the rocks

The EU-Turkey romance is on the rocks

November 08, 2006

Islam, Politics

Los Angeles Times Tracy Wilkinson November 7, 2006

After early promise, the Muslim nation’s membership bid appears headed for limbo. Both sides’ ardor has cooled.

ANKARA, TURKEY — They’re calling it a train crash here, the seemingly inevitable collision between this large Muslim nation and the Europe it has courted for years.

Those gauging Turkey’s once promising program of reforms, aimed at modernizing its democracy and facilitating membership in the European Union, see a troubled landscape: Turkish writers, journalists and even a 93-year-old academic are hauled into court on charges they insulted their country. Military commanders known for staging coups make veiled threats.

Anti-Western nationalism is on the rise, conservative Islam is spreading, and public opinion in favor of joining the EU has plummeted to an all-time low.

At the same time, many in Europe have soured on the prospect of welcoming a poor, officially Muslim country of 70 million people to their 25-nation club.

On Wednesday, the EU will issue its annual progress report. It is expected to sharply criticize Turkey as failing to sufficiently improve human rights, freedom of speech, cultural rights for minority Kurds and civilian control over the military, according to portions that have been leaked to the media.

It now seems likely that Turkey’s EU bid will be put on hold — not formally suspended, but frozen for possibly as long as a year.

A British Court’s Libel Judgment Is Reviewed by American Judges

A British Court’s Libel Judgment Is Reviewed by American Judges

A federal appellate court reviews the attempt by a Saudi billionaire to intimidate and silence the heroic journalist Rachel Ehrenfeld. By Joseph Goldstein in the New York Sun:

A federal appellate court heard arguments yesterday in the case of a New York-based counterterrorism researcher who was ordered by a British court to pay and apologize to a Saudi billionaire she accused of funding terrorism.One judge on the three-judge panel yesterday expressed reservations about the British court order. Still the questions from the judges of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that they had significant doubts that the court has jurisdiction to toss out the British court’s judgment in the libel case.

Publishers and news organizations are bound to read the American court’s forthcoming decision in the case. The case comes at a time of raised interest in “libel tourism”— the phenomenon of foreigners filing libel suits in British courts based on claims that American judges would quickly toss out on First Amendment grounds. Whether American courts can block those judgments, or at least certain of their provisions, is a question none of the judges yesterday appeared especially eager to tackle. And the court expressed little interest in the First Amendment concerns that legal observers say are present in the case.

One judge on the panel, Jose Cabranes, seemed worried that a ruling in the researcher’s favor could open up American courts to suits challenging the judgments of other courts across the globe.

The case before the court was brought on behalf of an American researcher, Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose articles have appeared in many publications, including, The New York Sun. It is not her periodical journalism that is at issue in this case but her 2003 book, “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed — and How to Stop It,” which accuses a Saudi financier, Khalid bin Mahfouz, of backing organizations with alleged ties to terrorism. It is a charge that Mr. Mahfouz denies. Mr. Mahfouz sued Ms. Ehrenfeld and other researchers who made similar accusations against him in court in London. He has also set up an informational Web site to clear his name and to catalogue his growing list of legal victories in British courts against those he said have libeled him.

Ms. Ehrenfeld never appeared before the British court, which last year ordered her to pay 30,000 British pounds, print an apology, and keep her books out of the country. She filed suit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan seeking to block enforcement of the judgment. A judge, Richard Casey, dismissed the suit last year on the grounds that Mr. Mahfouz did not conduct any business here giving the court jurisdiction.

Ms. Ehrenfeld’s attorney, Daniel Kornstein, switched strategies yesterday, seeking to convince the court it has jurisdiction because aspects of the British judgment amount to “intrusion into New York.”

Yes, and much worse: hounding unwanted critics into silence.