Why Turkey will never be a part of European Union
Why Turkey will never be a part of European Union
From the time Ottoman Empire collapsed in the 1920’s and the establishment of present day Turkey, the country has been a secular Muslim democracy that has always allied itself with the west. It has been a member of European Union predecessors like the Council of Europe which it joined in 1949 as well as a member of NATO since 1952. Turkey joined the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) in 1969 and was a member of Western Europe Union since 1992.
Turkey has been cooperating with European Economic Community since 1959 but the issue of joining the heir of the OEEC; the European Union has been an issue of controversy and much debate within Turkey and other European Union members’ states (Randall, 2002, p. 15). Turkey began the process of EU accession when it signed a pre association agreement in 1963 to join European Union fully rather then being just a customs union member by signing the first financial protocol.
Since then, its push towards full membership have been rocky especially after a military coup occurred in 1981 and in 1984 when it invaded Cyprus which soured the relations between it and the European economic commission. Turkey applied for full membership to the European Union in 1987 and the commission endorsed its application but postponed its assessment for eligibility. A major breakthrough for turkeys EU accession came in the December of 1999 when it was given candidate status.
Since then, Turkey has made great strides to meet the requirements of European Union accession like improving its social and democratic institution, improving the human rights and freedom of speech situation in the country especially for minorities such as the Kurdish initiative that was aimed at extending the rights and liberties of Kurdish minorities in 2009 and banning of capital punishment in January of 2004 (Jones, 2007, p.
45). The European Union began its accession talks that were open ended with turkey in 2004 and practical negotiations on the chapters of adopting the accession protocol the “acquis communautaire” which outlined the accession criterion in 2006. Although considerable progress has been made by Turkey in positioning itself for full European Union membership, there are many challenges in its way to full membership.
The only chapter that have been fulfilled is the chapter on research and technology and around right of the chapters remain unaccomplished because of Turkeys continued refusal to accept trade and opening of ports between it and Cyprus as was outlined in the Ankara protocol. Adoption of the “acquis communautaire” has been hampered by opposition of some countries like France which opposes four chapters and the two of the chapters are opposed by Austria and Germany whiles two of the chapters rejected by Cyprus.
This has made Turkey reform agenda to diminish due to opposition by the key players in the European Union, France and Germany, which are critical of Turkey’s credibility as a European country and its ability in fulfilling the accession protocol. According to the guidelines for negotiations which were outlined by the framework for EU membership, the guidelines are founded on elements that make it hard for Turkey to join the European Union.
One of the elements is that the accession talks are open therefore implying that EU accession for Turkey is not guaranteed. Another element that the outline of the framework for the adoption of all the 35 policies as outlined in the accession “acquis communautaire” requiring total compromise from Turkey and all the European members in order for it to be considered for full membership which are difficult choices for Turkey to make especially the issues of recognising Cyprus and granting free flow of its goods through its territory (John, 2004, p.
32). Another issue that is making it difficult for Turkey to gain full membership is the long changeover periods and special requirements and safeguards for each of the policies which make it a difficult and long process for it to be admitted for full membership. The other precondition that might prevent Turkey from accessing full membership is that the negotiations may be suspended in case there is a breach of the rights of democracy, human rights and abuse of the rule of law.
Although Turkey has made considerable progress in improving its social, political and justice institutions, it still experiences problems in granting total freedom of speech and the media as was witnessed in the trial of the Dorgan media houses in September of 2009 where a 2. 5 billion dollar measure against it caused the European union to express concern over the status of media freedom in Turkey. Another thorny issue that has made the European Union to be sceptical of Turkey’s EU succession is its large population and financial consequences it will have on the European Union.
This has made the European Union to extend the accession period to be extended substantially for countries like Turkey that will have financial consequences to it to around 2014 when the European Union will have revised its new financial structure. Throughout the European Union member countries, the sceptics that surround Turkey’s accession revolve around geopolitical, demographic and political tensions (Kubicek, 2003, p. 49). One issue in the demographics is Turkeys large population of about 74 million would make it to become EU most populous state by 20 years against that of the most populous nation Germany that will be around 80 million.
This has led to opposition by some of the member states of the EU. The most sensitive of the issues that hampers Turkey’s accession are the religious and cultural differences. Turkeys is a secular predominate Muslim democracy while most of European member states are Christian and secular democracies. France is one of the fieriest opposed of Turkey’s EU bid since it has its own problems with a population of about 5 million Muslims and has problems in their integration and is worried about their massive immigration that would result after accession .
There are legitimate concerns in the European union over Turkey’s alignment with Muslim under the AKP party which have made its orientation with the west to erode (Nash, 2003, p. 11). Recent terrorist activities have also caused some member states to be sceptical of a Muslim nation into it and the members seems signal to Turkey that although they are secular, democratic and a pro-western countries, there is little chance or no place for Muslims in Europe. Turkey’s geographic boundary is another issue that has hampered its accession into EU. Only part of Turkey is in Europe and the rest in Asia Minor.
Therefore, it does not fit within the borders of the European Union. Although the treaty that was signed in Rome outlined the EU to be based on values of common interest and not borders, there is belief in some of the members of it that Turkey is not in Europe. The most vocal is France whose president Nicolas Sarkozy who in 26 September 2007 said that Turkey has no place in Europe and the Germany chancellor Angela Merkel who has proposed the EU to grant Turkey privileged status and not full membership. These views by some of the EU membership have delayed and will continue to hamper Turkey’s accession to full membership.
Another issue that has continued to delay Turkey accession is the condition over the improvement of its human rights record as well as strategic security concerns of the European Union especially the issue of anarchised Cyprus nation. Cyprus is a thorny issue for Turkey since it’s a precondition for its accession to recognise and grant access to Cyprus of its ports while Turkey requires the European Union to end isolation of northern Cyprus (Redmond, 1998, p. 64). The issue is still unresolved and is a decisive factor that will continue to hamper Turkey’s accession.
Other issues that have continued to hamper its accession are the meddling of the justice system by the military, executive and legislative powers. An example is the Ergenekon trail that resulted in a military coup. Turkey’s law on Turkishness that is used to limit the freedom of expression in Turkey has made it not able to meet the obligations of the European convection on human rights. The long road to EU membership has made the domestic support for EU accession to fade in Turkey. In June 2010, only about 44% of the Turkish population thought that EU membership is possible and good and 66% are critical of the plan.
This was reported by the German Marshall fund of the US (Kubicek, 2003, p. 76). The proposition by the French and the Germans to give Turkey just candidate status have been labelled as insulting by Turkey and have contributed to a slow down of the reform agenda by the Turkish government in its aim of gaining full membership. The negative political tensions and attitude have created an impression to Turkey that even when it reforms country to meet the specifications of the European Union, it might not be a welcome nation to the EU.
Turkey is viewed by its critics of its accession into full EU membership as a populous, too Muslim and having a low GDP to join the European nations. The key determinate of whether Turkey will join full membership will be determined by how it handles the political, economic, legal and social reforms that are outlined by the European Union “acquis communautaire” and the pace of these reforms. The roads toward membership will continue to have proponents and opponents within the EU and distractions like the prepositions by Germany and Austria to hold referendums on the issue of EU accession.
The key factor that will determine its membership will be the European population itself because even if the EU approves its membership, if it meets the conditions, the EU population must be consulted through referendums and parliamentary authorisations (John, 2004, p. 68). This puts the membership of Turkey at stake because there is no widespread support among the European population about Turkish accession. This makes Turkey to be the country that will negotiate for EU membership under the severest of conditions since the founding of the European Union.
John, L 2004, Sub national Democracy in the European Union, Challenges and Opportunities, Oxford, Oxford University Press Jones, A 2007, Britain and the European Union, Edinburgh University Press Kubicek, P 2003, The European Union and Democratization, London, Routledge Nash, M 2003, The European Union as a Template, Contemporary Review, Vol282, pp. 1-19 Randall, E 2000, The European Union and Health Policy, London, St. Martins Press Redmond, J 1998, The Expanding European Union: Past, Present, Future, Lynne Rienner Publishers
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 8 January 2017
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