T URKEY has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1949, an essential part of NATO since 1952 and was recognised by the European Union for membership negotiation in 1987. In July 2010, in his first flush of leadership, David Cameron said of Turkey, “It is wrong they guard the camp but are not allowed in the tent.” For those who still want Turkey in the EU the street demonstrations of the last few days have been as encouraging as Prime Minister Erdogan's negative reaction to them has been disappointing.

Fortunately the voice of President Gul was heard yesterday supporting the demonstrators' right to protest.
It would hardly be surprising if Erdogan has begun to think that the EU has no intention of going beyond the offer of a “special relationship” rather than full membership and that he should therefore look elsewhere for alliances. France, Germany and Austria have blocked every attempt by other EU members to move forward, the serious negotiations which began in 2005 but now seem to have stalled. There are difficulties and special considerations about Turkey's application but with goodwill and recognition of the unique importance of its membership these could be overcome. The critics will point to the demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul and say they show how undisciplined the country is but instead they should see them as evidence of the country's basic democratic ambitions.