Turkey's future lies with Europe

Guardian.co.uk - After US President Barack Obama's visit, the EU cannot ignore Ankara's rising strategic importance and must stick with membership talks. Obama should not have needed to say it. The fact that he is visiting Turkey as part of a European, and not a Middle Eastern, tour shows where he thinks Turkey's future lies: in the EU. He expressed his support for Turkey's membership application not once but twice: first at the EU summit in Prague at the weekend, and then again during his speech in the Turkish Parliament. He also reminded Turkey that, it needed to resume its reform process if it is serious about EU membership. Following Russia's war with Georgia last August, Europeans are acutely aware that they ignore the smoldering conflicts of the Caucasus at their peril. Turkey is a vital country in this region. After the gas cut-off in January 2009, the EU once again promised to diversify its gas supplies away from Russia. The most promising alternative routes run through Turkey. So rather than hitting back at Obama's remarks, European leaders should explain how they intend to achieve strategic objectives, such as energy security and a stable neighborhood, while at the same time reneging on their pledge to negotiate with Turkey for full EU membership.