Present day Turkey stood up from the ruins of the vanquished Ottoman Empire in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal, who is recognized as the “Father of the Turks. ” Although he used authoritarianism to rule the country, Kemal instituted various legal, political, and social reforms. Initially, only a single party ruled Turkey but in 1950 there was a shift to the multi-party system and the Democratic opposition party emerged victorious. Since then, Turkish political parties have divided.
Democracy was challenged by periods of instability and occasional coups. Each attempt consequently led to the formation of a civilian government(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). In 1997, a military-backed uprising was again staged and resulted to the defeat of the Islamic government. In 1974, Turkey used military intervention in preventing the takeover of Cyprus by Greece. To this day, Turkey has acted as patron state to the country(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination).
In 1984, the separatist movement was launched by the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which is currently known as People’s Congress of Kurdistan. The movement officially started Turkey’s insurgency problem which has been responsible for the death of 30,000 people. After fifteen years of armed conflict, the leader of the PKK was captured and most of its members fled to northern Iraq. In 2004, the number of killings blamed on the KGK intensified(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). In 1964, it was granted associate membership by the European Union.
It joined the United Nations in 1945 and the NATO seven years later. Over the least ten years, Turkey has initiated the necessary reforms to enhance its economy and democracy in the hope of initiating accession membership talks with the EU. As an aspirant for EU membership, Turkey is looking forward to embracing the laws and regulations of the European Union come 2014(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). The European Union (EU) The European Union was the product of a regional trade agreement among six nations in 1951.
Today, it has emerged as an alliance of 27 states throughout the continent of Europe. Prior to the formation of the EU, alliances were already forged such as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). Unlike the ASEAN or NAFTA, however, the EU is not a free trade alliance. In fact, it possesses most of the qualities that an independent country possesses such as anthem, inauguration, and its flag(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination).
The idea of a unified Europe cropped up in the mind of several European leaders during the latter part of the 1940s after they were convinced that the only way to achieve lasting peace in the region is to unite France and Germany. The first phase of the eventual merging of European nations was kicked off by the proposal of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman in 1950. The next step was the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), with Belgium, Italy, Luxemborug, France, West Germany, and the Netherlands, as signatories(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination).
The success of the ECSC inspired the formation of two more alliances namely the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) in 1957. After a decade, the three communities were merged to become the European Community. The alliance had a single Commission, Council of Ministers, and Parliament. In 1979, the first direct elections were held and were held every five years after that(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). In 1973, the European Community added Ireland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom to their fold.
Greece, Spain, and Portugal became EC members in 1980, 1981, and 1986 respectively. In 1992, the EC members signed the Treaty of Maastricht laying down the foundations for cooperative efforts in terms of defense and foreign policy, internal and judicial affairs, and the establishment of a common currency. This led to the formation of the European Union. The number of EU members was increased to 15 with the addition of Austria, Sweden, and Finland in 1995, Currently, there are 27 European Union members(Central Intelligence Agency, no pagination). Turkey’s Desire To Become An EU Member
Since the latter part of the 1950s, Turkey had already expressed its desire to become a part of the European Union. This was evident in 1963 when Turkey reached a consensus with the European Economic Cooperation(EEC). The agreement was based on the premise that Turkey would become a member of the EEC once it has satisfied membership conditions. Despite its location, Europe regarded Turkey as part of the continent because of its strategic importance during the Cold War(Kalin 2). In 1987, Turkey formally applied for EU membership. After assessment, however, the Commission deemed that Turkey had not yet satisfied the conditions for membership.
In place of accession talks, the EU offered several alternatives such as customs union in preparation for admission. Turkey agreed and in 1995 a customs union was created(Kalin 2). During the 1999 Summit in Helsinki, Finland, the EU decided to make Turkey a candidate for accession. In December of 2002, the Copenhagen European Council made the conclusion that if the European Council would recommend accession talks because Turkey had already satisfied membership criteria, then the Council would not delay the proceedings. In June of 2004 during the Brussels Summit, the European Council made the recommendations(Kalin 2).
The positive signs demonstrated by the European Union fast tracked reforms in Turkey. In a three year period from 2001 to 2004, eight reform measures were implemented. By October 2004, the European Commission gave the signal to proceed with accession talks after Turkey has already fulfilled the membership requirements(Kalin 2). The Long Wait Is Over For over forty years, Turkey has worked hard in trying to become an EU member. During the Brussels Summit of December 2004, the European Council recommended for the start of accession discussions. The talks started October 3, 2005(Kalin 3).
In opening accesion talks, Turkey has been required to sign a customs deal with all members ot the EU including Greek Cyprus. It should be signed prior to the beginning of negotiations. Another condition set by the EU is that Turkey must resume its political and economic reforms. Restrictions concerning worker migration from Turkey must likewise be put in place. Finally, Turkey must recognize the government of Greek Cyprus. The southern portion of Cyprus belongs to EU but Turkey has long refused to recognize it(Kalin 3). EU Accession Is A Divisive Issue
During the Accession talks held on October 3, 2005, the entire EU membership ws engaged in heated debates on the issue of granting full EU membership to Turkey. Out of the 27 countries, France and Austria were opposing the granting of full member status to Turkey(Bordonaro, no pagination). French President Jacques Chirac argued that it was necessary for Turkey to recognize Cyprus first before it can gain entry to the EU. Another argument he raised is the fact that Turkey is known to have a repressive culture and it would have to implement a “cultural revolution” in order to become a full member of the European Union(Bordonaro, no pagination).
Austria, for its part, proposed that instead of full membership, Turkey must be accepted as a “privileged partner. ” Vienna’s rejection of the move has something to do with the country’s issues with Croatia. The main reason for Austria’s non-acceptance of Turkey’s bid for EU membership is because of Croatia’s uncooperativeness when it comes to punishing military men who caused atrocities during the 1990 Balkan Wars(Bordonaro, no pagination). Aside from the reasons cited by France and Austria, there are other reasons why the move to grant full member status to Turkey is being opposed(Bordonaro, no pagination).
First, there is a considerable difference between the economy of Turkey and the European Union. The former does not have sufficient funds to comply with monetary considerations. The latter, for its part, would be saddled with settling extravagant costs of adjusting and transferring payments(Giannakopoulos & Maras 6). Second, despite reforms in the political system of Turkey, EU members have the notion that Turkey would take on a dominant stance concerning the EU institutions and would weigh largely on the decision-making ability of the Union(Giannakopoulos & Maras 6).
Third, being an Islamic state, the addition of Turkey to the roster of EU countries would not only endanger the expansion process but also pave the way for huge obstacles in their attempts for deeper integration of Europe. Turkey’s accession to the EU is being viewed as one of the attempts of the US to weaken the Union as a potential rival(Giannakopoulos & Maras 6). Fourth, accepting an Islamic country as an EU member would bring about security threats since Islamic terrorists groups could now stretch their operations to Turks residing in Europe(Giannakopoulos & Maras 6).
Fifth, granting membership status to Turkey would put the Union into a cultural conflict. Politically and constitutionally speaking, most EU countries still fear the Kemalistic principle, which is establishing a dominant position in state institutions(Giannakopoulos & Maras 6). Sixth, due to Turkey’s closeness to the Middle East, the security policy of the European Union would be tested. The unstable balance of power in the Arab region would serve as a warning to the EU to take any foreign policy with the region seriously(Giannakopoulos & Maras 7).
Finally, there is a wide range of differences between Turkey and the EU in terms of its economy, politics, geography, culture, religion, and society. This is a test to the compatibility of Turkey to EU standards(Giannakopoulos & Maras 7). In Support of Accession While there are arguments against Turkey’s accession to the European Union, there are also reasons in favor of granting full membership to Turkey(Giannakopoulos & Maras 7). 1. Accession is not equivalent to the granting of full membership.
In fact, it is the first step that Turkey must take to initiate the necessary reforms it will need to become compliant with EU standards(Giannakopoulos & Maras 7). 2. The various economic and political differences can be used as the foundation of European foreign policy by adopting Turkey’s economic, legal, constitutional, and political structure. By accepting a Muslim country, the democratic and legal principles of the European Union could be tested(Giannakopoulos & Maras 8). 3. Turkey has already initiated moves in integrating its religion to its political agenda.
The idea of Kemalism has seen a major transformation over the past years(Giannakopoulos & Maras 8). 4. The Middle Eastern policy of Turkey is stabilizing and could very well have a positive impact on the foreign policy of the European Union(Giannakopoulos & Maras 8). 5. Overemphasizing on security interests and the notion that Turkey would be the starting point of terrorist expansion to Europe must be avoided. Such belief is counter-productive and in fact has become one of the reasons why Muslims in Europe would develop extremist tendencies(Giannakopoulos & Maras 10).
The Benefits of Accepting Turkey to the European Union In the light of the debates for or against the acceptance of Turkey as an EU member, the move for concession can have positive effects to both Turkey and the Union. While there are various challenges to such move, accession presents the European Union with various opportunities as well(Kalin 4). 1. As the European Union is aiming to strengthen its role in global politics, the accession of Turkey would enhance the Union’s capacity as a foreign policy player. Turkey’s membership in the EU would help Europe’s efforts of expanding outside the region.
They can explore new opportunities in the Middle East and Caucasian region which has always been challenging(Kalin 4). 2. Being at the heart of the European-Asian border, Turkish acession can be strategically favorable to the EU. It can extend its foreign policy to the five Balkan states, Central Asia, Caucasus, and the Middle East. With Turkey in its fold, the Union can improve its status in Middle East countries like Israel, with whom Turkey has close ties. In addition, the Turkish state has gained the trust of both Israel and Palestine(Kalin 5).
3. In the light of the implementation of the European Seurity and Defense Policy (ESDP), Turkey’s military strength and its caapcity as a forward base would be vital to the operations of the ESDP(Kalin 6). 4. The events that transpired on September 11, 2001 was regarded by many as a cultural conflict. Accession of Turkey can bring multi-cultural benefits as it would bridge the gap between the West and Moslems(Kalin 7). 5. Aside from improving the political and security image of the EU, Turkey can provide its own share of economic gain.
Turkey is huge and is rich in resources. It is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. With a population of over 70 million, and an increasing purchasing power parity, Turkey provides EU with a new venue for marketing products from Union members(Kalin 8). Obstacles To Turkish Membership in The European Union Size, non-compatibility with European standards, proximity to Middle East countries like Iraq, Iran, and Syria are just some of the potential challenges that the EU will face once it grants full membership to the EU(Kalin 8). Population Concerns
Turkey is a country with a population of over 70 million people. This is one of the major issues being raised by accession opponents. Once accepted, it will become the biggest nation in the European Union. The main contention here is that a country with such a sheer size can have an impact on EU’s labor market. By 2015, the population of Turkey will hit 82 million and will achieve stability at that level(Kalin 9). The problem with the population is that the 71 million of Turkey will only account for 14 percent once accession is implemented.
Once the new Treaty comes into force, a majority vote would require at least 50% and each country must account for 60 percent of the Union’s overall population(Kalin 9). On the other hand, Turkish workers can be a vital asset to European institutions. Because they are young and well-educated, the Turkish workforce can be an alternative replacement to losses in the workforce(Kalin 10). Poverty Issues Another issue being raised by accession opponents is that Turkey is poor in terms of EU standards.
35 percent of its population works in the agriculture sector. The disparity in wealth between the eastern and western regions is below 10 percent. Turkey must then initiate measures that would reduce the disparity between these regions(Kalin 11). However, fears of Turkey becoming a financial member once it is taken in as an EU member should no longer be entertained. Turkey’s economy is well on its way to improving and it is unlikely that it will seek the assistance of the EU in terms of per capita income(Kalin 11).
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 January 2017
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