William Hague the British Foreign Secretary, has spoken of Britain championing Turkish membership of the EU as part of the new foreign policy committed to building relationships with emerging economies, particularly if enjoying robust growth. Contrary to the arguments of politicians in France, Germany and other member states, he considers the EU turning its back on the membership aspirations of the predominantly Muslim Turkey as an immense strategic error.
There is concern in the West that Turkey in response, is turning its back on an unwelcoming Europe and embracing the Islamic world e.g. by voting against sanctions on the nuclear programme of Iran and embracing Hamas, considered by the US and the EU as a terrorist organisation. However, compared with the EU, the economy of Turkey is booming with 11.4% growth in the first quarter of 2010, government debt only at 49% of GDP and strong export business due partly to its closer regional ties with Iran, Syria and Russia.
Mr Hague accepts that Turkey needs to improve in areas such as human rights, competition and media freedom to support its case for EU membership but there is potential for a major increase in trade flows, currently £8.6 billion a year between the two countries. Turkey is also a key Nato ally strategically placed between Europe and Asia with channels of communication different from the West. It would also appear that with the West in financial recession, Turkey is looking towards the East to explore opportunities and exert influence with its new financial power.
The British policy towards Turkey, therefore, seems a very pragmatic piece of realpolitik which again calls into question the future evolution of the EU into a common trading bloc or free market of neighbouring nation states, a single political union based on a common Christian heritage or something in between.

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