The European Union has begun major discussions with both Turkey and Croatia over the issue of EU membership. The subject of Turkish accession has been on the minds of Europeans for years. Now Europe is actually taking steps toward action. Countries such as France, Germany and especially Austria have expressed doubts on whether the Muslim nation could ever really be European. Austria sites the Ottoman invasion as reason enough to keep Turkey out. Austria's fears represent legitimate security concerns.
If the EU whole heartedly admits Turkey into "the European club", Europe's new neighbors would include Syria and Iraq. Europeans would have to face tense issues of Kurdish nationalism and increased Islamism. Europeans have struggled to deal with the creation of a European rapid reaction force; would this force be ready to deal with possible crises that may erupt in Europe's new backyard?
By allowing Turkish accession, the EU would be asking for a closer seat to one of the world's major hot spots. Considering that most Europeans want nothing to do with promoting democracy in the Middle East or truly solving Arab Israeli problems, the EU may be in need of a major reassessment of its foreign policy if it decides to include Turkey. No longer would Europeans enjoy a buffer from the dangers of Middle East extremism, which makes this decision of Turkish membership perhaps the most important European political issue of the new century. Europe's fate and destiny rests on a sound decision on this issue.