SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI

s.gultasli@todayszaman.com

SELÇUK GÜLTAŞLI
January 01, 2007, Monday

800,000 Turks become EU citizens

As Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union today, nearly 800,000 Turks and one million Muslims will become EU citizens.

The number of Turks in Europe will rise to six million and Europe’s Muslim population rises to 16 million.

The European press focused on the fact that Bulgaria’s Muslim population comprises 12 percent of the population.

Discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in these countries, ever since the 9/11 attacks in the United States.

Turkish-origin Bulgarian citizens often emphasize that Islam is not ‘a religion of terror.’

Observers comment that EU ‘enlargement fatigue’ will grow following the accession of these two countries.

The EU’s population will rise to 492 million and the borders will reach the Black Sea.

The EU has increased its member states from 15 to 27 within three years and is expected to take a break. Croatia may be the single exception here.

With the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the EU added 100 million in population and an area of 1.4 million square kilometers.

Comments that Bulgaria and Romania were not ready for membership have a negative influence on EU public opinion.

Though authorities state both countries are ready as much as Greece was in 1981 and Poland in 2004, Europeans are expected to display a clear attitude against further expansion following the latest wave of enlargement.

For the first time in its history, the EU will keep monitoring its new members following accession.

Bulgaria especially has failed to fully convince Brussels in the areas of justice, corruption and organized crime.

Brussels will impose sanctions against the country unless it makes progress in these areas.

Pointing to shortcomings, 55 Bulgarian Airways aircraft will not be allowed to land at European airports unless they pass EU standards.

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