Turkey lends a helping hand

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent Sunday in Iran. He met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni to discuss, among other things, Iran’s nuclear showdown at the United Nations and the situation in Iraq. Iranian and Turkish officials want to extend and boost ties,” Ahmadinejad said. The European Union should take ...

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605785_erdogan_iran_b5.jpg

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent Sunday in Iran. He met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni to discuss, among other things, Iran's nuclear showdown at the United Nations and the situation in Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent Sunday in Iran. He met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni to discuss, among other things, Iran’s nuclear showdown at the United Nations and the situation in Iraq.

Iranian and Turkish officials want to extend and boost ties,” Ahmadinejad said.

The European Union should take note. The Turkish public (and, increasingly, the government) questions the E.U.’s motivations for stalling on Turkey’s membership. To wit, many Turks believe that the E.U. doesn’t want them because they are Muslims, regardless of the official reasons. Yet here’s Erdogan, acting as a middle man between Iran and the West. He even delivered a message to the Iranian people on behalf of President Bush: “Work out the transparency issue, and we will solve the rest through diplomatic means.”

A secular democracy, NATO member, and ally of both Israel and the United States, but also a Muslim country that has trade relations and shared political concerns with Iran, Turkey is uniquely suited to serve as what most concerned parties can view as an honest broker in negotiations about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. By going to Tehran, Erdogan has demonstrated his country’s willingness to adopt this role. Expiditing Turkey’s E.U. membership process would serve as an appropriate acknowledgement that Ankara could once again be a key player in global politics. Conversely, pushing Turkey away would just further inflame anti-Western sentiments in a country that is turning its gaze back to the East.

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