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Ataturk's ambition was to turn Turkey into a modern, secular country that would belong to Europe and the West, not to the Middle East.Still, Turkey remained an unstable political entity.Whereas the Ottomans had maintained hegemony over the Middle East for a century, Turkey would become a card-carrying member of the West.In 1995, Turkey entered into a customs union with the EU. Yet Turkey's strategic importance to Europe remains.Under Erdogan's regime, Turkey is no longer a prospective candidate for EU membership.After all, a destabilized Turkey is the last thing Europe needs. Regardless of one's sympathy for or antipathy to Erdogan, Europe's own security depends heavily on Turkey, which has absorbed millions of migrants and refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East in recent years.For the sake of both European stability and Turkish democracy, the EU must confront Turkey's crisis with patience and pragmatism, based on its own democratic principles.
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