Whether or not Turkey should become a member state in the EU is a topic of much debate both within Turkey itself and throughout the rest of Europe. Officially Turkey is a ‘Eurasian’ country and is considered in some ways a part of Europe while at the same time being considered an Asian country, but is not currently part of the EU.
Turkey first applied to accede to the EU in 1987, and was one of the first countries to join the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. However in 1989 the EU refused to begin negotiations due to economic and political problems in the country at the time as well as their poor relationship with Greece. However the commission did state that in the long term membership was the desired outcome. In 2004 the EU then agreed to begin the negotiations and began to negotiate on the 35 chapters of the acquis communautaire (the legislation and legal acts that embody the European Union Law). This is still underway, and once this is completed all the existing member states must still unanimously agree to grant Turkey membership.
But during this time, feelings within Turkey toward the EU have somewhat grown lukewarm. This is particularly true around coastal areas of Turkey such as Bodrum and Antalya – which have gained a lot of popularity thanks to the increasingly high cost of visiting European countries such as Greece or Ireland. Coupled with the Eurozone crisis, the many reforms that Turkey has had to go through to be considered for membership (including the abolishment of capital punishment), and the sting of seeming rejection; many Turkish residents are unsure whether they still want or need to be a part of the club.
And feelings within the EU towards Turkey’s membership are also mixed. One concern is the huge population of Turkey – with over 70 million residents the country would be the second largest state in the EU, and through the Lisbon treaty this would give them a bigger say in decision making that would affect the rest of the member states. Others worry that Turkey is simply too different and too unstable compared to the rest of Europe – with the Ottoman Empire historically being at odds with the rest of Europe, with 95% of the country being Muslim (despite its official status as secular), with a turbulent political history, and with only a lose geographic connection to the continent.
That said there are of course advantages too, with 40% of Turkey’s exports going to the EU, and with the high economic growth rates in Turkey being the envy of much of the rest of the EU. Furthermore Turkey could be an important ally in dealing with threats from Iran, and could provide an alternate route for the transit of Russian energy to the EU. Only time will tell what the fate of these accession plans, an whether or not the outcome is ultimately a desirable one for all parties involved.
Posted under Europe
This post was written by admin on November 13, 2012