"What they do is xenophobic," said Yvonne Ruwaida, a member of the executive board of the Green Party (Miljöpartiet de Gröna), during a visit to Steg för Framtiden” (A step for the future), an association established by Turkish entrepreneurs, in Stockholm on Saturday. She was referring to objections to Turkey's membership raised by a small number of politicians in Sweden, as well as in France and Germany. "This is Islamophobia. They fear that the whole of Europe will be invaded by Islam and are therefore trying to stop Turkish accession," she said. "It is very sad that such things are being discussed. Membership of a country should be assessed on the basis of objective criteria."
Sweden, a firm supporter of Turkey's accession to the EU, is preparing to take over the EU's rotating presidency in June. The Swedish Green Party is one of the most consistent supporters of Turkey in the country. Mehmet Kaplan, son of a Turkish immigrant family, is in the leadership of the party.
Ruwaida said Turkey deserved to be a member of the EU since it is a European country. “Our party favors an EU embracing the entire continent,” she added. "Unfortunately many politicians in Europe say they are against Islam, so they automatically turn against Turkey's accession. I agree that there are conditions that Turkey should meet to become a member, but what we are talking about is a completely different thing."
Turkey's drive for membership is mired in difficulties, stemming from both the slow pace of reform and political objections in Europe. France and Germany are two outspoken opponents of Turkish accession, saying the predominantly Muslim country does not belong to Europe and are instead proposing an association that falls short of membership.