The possibility of Turkish EU accession appears increasingly uncertain. In recent weeks, European leaders have voiced unease over Ankara’s membership bid, citing concerns over Turkey’s infringement on freedom of expression and its embargo on Cypriot ships and planes (AP), the latter a manifestation of a long-standing dispute over division of the Aegean Sea with Greece. Some EU members, including France and Germany, have suggested Turkey seek “privileged partnership” rather than full membership. Olli Rehn, commissioner of EU enlargement, opposed this idea, but warned the Turkish accession process that began in October 2005 has been slowed by Ankara’s failure to repeal Article 301, which gives the government free reign to arrest journalists and activists for disparaging Turkey. In an interview with the BBC, EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said it could take twenty years for Turkey to become a member nation.
Cânân Arin casually shrugs when describing the occupational hazards of being a leading women's rights advocate in Turkey. A few years ago, Arin recalls, a doctor in Istanbul survived a beating from her husband that left her spine broken in three places. When Arin helped the doctor initiate divorce proceedings, the abuser came after her as well.
"He threatened me, he tried to bribe me, he tried everything against me because there was no way to break me," says Arin, a lawyer who has pioneered the movement to provide shelter and legal services for domestic violence victims in Turkey. An unfaltering, powerful woman of 63, Arin knew she was the last line of defense for the woman; her family had turned her away and her abuser had evaded jail by paying a $2 fine.