Eu and turkey challenges and opportunities by emanuel baisire


Published on

Published in: Education, News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Eu and turkey challenges and opportunities by emanuel baisire

  1. 1. Background: The European Union is a composition of 25 member countries that have come together under different sets of agreements to share a common political, economical and social policy. According to Dinan (2005) European countries have been characterized by war and economic rivalry among themselves for centuries. According to Gilpin (2000) in order to overcome these difference and develop a strong economic partnership, six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxemburg) came together to establish the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 (p.194). Dinan (2005) has acknowledged that the desire to diffuse long standing rivalry between Germany and France became a driving force to Europe’s regional integration. Another important treaty that solidified Europe was the 1957 Treaty of Rome which established the European Economic Community. According to Dinan (2005) the Treaty of Rome was an ambitious economic plan aimed at establishing a common market for European goods and services and free movement of people in the European community. Since then several treaties and agreement have been reached in order to strengthen and solidify the European Union. The notable treaties include the Maastricht Treaty (1991) that paved a way for the Economic and Monetary Union, Amsterdam Treaty (1997) that supported Europe’s economic, political and security objectives and the Nice Treaty (2001) which outlined conditions for EU’s future expansion and member states representation within the European parliament.(Dinan, 2005). According to Dinan (2005) after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the European Union decided to extend its influence 1
  2. 2. to the eastern and Southern boarders of Europe to incorporate several former communist countries and others into the European Union (P.143). The vision for expansion is attributed to European Union desire to extend its economic and political influence to the new independent states that had been under communist regimes in order to have a strong and stable Europe. Turkey’s Accession to the European Union (EU): The relationship of the European Union (EU) to its new eastern and southern neighbors is important for the EU existence and credibility. The possible accession of new members especially Turkey to the European Union (EU) will dramatically change the political, economic and social set up of the European Union. Dinan (2005) argued that Turkey’s accession to the EU will extend Europe’s boarders to unstable and undemocratic Middle East countries like Iraq, Iran and Syria (p.156). Major pressing issues about Turkey’s accession to the European Union range from economic, demographic, geographical, political and human rights. One commonly raised point is Turkey’s population. According to Nas (2004) when Turkey joins the EU, Turkey will become one of the most populated member state by 2015 (p.4). Turkey's current population is 71 million, and is expected to increase to 80-85 million in the next 20 years (EU, 2004). In comparison with Germany, EU’s largest member state which has 83 million people today, but whose population is projected to decline, Turkey’s accession becomes a concern for many Europeans. 2
  3. 3. Dinan, (2005) observed that another argument is rooted in the debate on whether it is possible to establish geographic borders for Europe, and whether Turkey 'fits' within these borders (p.143). Perhaps the most sensitive of all arguments centre on the cultural and religious differences. Since the EU identifies itself as a cultural and religiously tolerant society, Turkey's EU bid should not be compromised by cultural differences. According to Phillips (2004), EU member states' concerns over Turkey's human rights record as well as global and regional security-related issues have also been key factors behind Turkey's prolonged application process (p. 86-97). Luxemburg Prime-Minister Jean-Claude Junker in a speech referred to Turkey as “A country in which torture is still a common practice cannot have a seat at the table of the European Union”. In “Clash of Civilization”, Samuel Huntington describes Turkey as a “torn Country”. Huntington (1993), referred to “Torn Countries”, as those that “have a fair degree of cultural homogeneity but are divided over whether their society belongs to one civilization or another” (p.42). Huntington (1993), argued that Turkey is a torn country which since the early 1920s has been trying to Westernize in order become part of the West, though its culture and tradition is different from the Western (p.42). Turkey’s leaders have greatly supported turkey to transform to Western Civilization, but some Turks prefer Turkey to remain a Muslim society. According to Huntington (1993), Turkey being a predominantly Muslim country and the West being Christian, Turkey will never be accepted as a European Country (p.42). According to Dinan (2005), Turkey started its effort to join the European Economic Community in 1963 by signing the Ankara Association Agreement in 1963. In 1987, 3
  4. 4. Turkey filed an application for membership to the European Community but was rejected by the European Economic Community (p.156). Kirisci (2004) asserted that some EU members argue that even if Turkey was to be granted membership for a single day, it is not ready to meet EU member’s standards and obligations (p.2). However, this argument has been proven wrong by Turkish politicians. Turkey has initiated reforms over the years and it has managed to accomplish a great deal of success economically and politically. In 1995, the EU suggested for a Customs Union with Turkey which came into effect in1996.Custom duties on goods from the E.U. countries were removed and the European Union’s Common External Tariff for third countries was introduced. According to Kirisci (2004), Turkey’s effort to integrate in the European Union fell short of Turkey’s expectation but it has gradually embarked on the transformation process to become a democratic, modern and secular state According to Kubicek (2005), at the end of the Cold War, European leaders embarked on the enlargement of Europe by considering Post-Communist states. Turkey’s leaders were optimistic during the EU’s enlargement process that their candidature will be considered (p.2). The EU argued that the Post-Communist countries fulfilled the Copenhagen Criteria and that Turkey still lagged behind in democratic reform and respect for human rights (Kirisci, 2004). According to Phillips (2004), Copenhagen Criteria are Rules that require all would-be EU member countries to guarantee democracy and respect for human rights, rule of law and protection of minorities (p.94). According to Dinan (2005), 4
  5. 5. Copenhagen Criteria is based on the 1993 EU commission report that stipulated guidelines and conditions that must be fulfilled by an aspiring EU candidate country to be considered for accession to the European Union (p.147). The Copenhagen criteria stipulates that for a candidate country to be considered for accession, it must have strong democratic institutions, respect for minority rights and rule of law, a free market economy and to accept a common European defense and foreign policy. Kirisci (2004) argued that Turkey’s exclusion from membership negotiations in 1997 disappointed many Turks (p.3). According to Dinan (2005), EU decision to consider accession negotiations with other under developed former communist countries like Bulgaria and Romania was unfair to the Turkish government. According to Phillips (2004), in response, Turkish government severed diplomatic relationship with the European Union and threatened to hinder Cyprus reunification process. Kubicek (2005) pointed out that Turkey’s continuous effort to democratic reform and respect for human rights convinced European leaders to approve Turkey as a candidate country in 1999 Helsinki Summit. In December 2004 the European council agreed to begin Turkey’s accession negotiations to the European Union. According to Dinan (2005), some original EU member countries have made it clear that Turkey’s full membership will be gradual and will not be complete until 2014 (p.157). According to Phillips (2004), Turkey’s accession is considered to be open-ended and some European member countries, notably France proposed a referendum in EU member countries before Turkey can be accepted as a new 5
  6. 6. EU member. France proposal is to grant Turkey with a “Special Status” membership while Germany’s version is that of a “privileged partnership”. Due to pressure to meet the Copenhagen Criteria, Turkey embarked on an extensive political reform and improved its human rights record. According to Phillips (2004), Turkey eased restrictions on freedom of press and association. Signed and ratified the Protocol 6 and 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights” (p.94). Turkey’s political and legislative reforms resulted into the abolition of the death penalty to conform to the European laws, reduced the influence of the military in government and Kurdish minority rights were eventually respected by the Turkish government. It can be argued that without Turkey’s strong commitment to join the European Union, dramatic political, economical, legal and human rights reforms would not have been easily undertaken. The significance of Turkey to the EU is its strategic location to the Muslim world. According to Dinan (2005), Turkey’s integration to the EU will prove to the Muslim world that Islam and democracy can Co-exist. The vastness of Turkey will provide the E.U with the opportunity to advance democratic principle and peace to the Middle East and Central Asia. Phillips (2004) argued that Turkey’s membership to the EU is in relation with the “War Against Terrorism” (p.13). According to Kubicek (2005) 6
  7. 7. Turkey’s strong military capability will also act as a stabilizing force against unstable Europe’s neighbors (p.13). Phillips (2004) confirmed that Turkish business community considers the accession to the EU as an avenue for Turkey to continue its economic reforms in order to meet European Standards (p.93). Kirisci (2004) argued that due to pressure from the EU, Turkey has improved its market- economy by introducing deflation measures and promote an exportoriented strategy to achieve economic development (p.4). On the other hand European business leaders will easily tap Turkey’s market of 70 million people and have easy access to a relatively cheap labor force. The initiative will also strengthen the competitiveness of European firms interested in cutting down production cost by setting up manufacturing plants in Turkey. Another significance of Turkey’s accession to the European Union is the demographic aspect of Europe. Europe’s birth rate is low and its population is aging. In contrast, Turkey’s population is younger and relatively educated; this provides the EU with the opportunity to utilize Turkey’s labor force (Tusiad, 2004). However, this phenomenon also plays against Turkey’s accession to the EU because most European considers Turks cheap labor as a threat to Europe’s employment and other social benefits. The prospect of Turkey ever joining the European Union is still undetermined. Phillips (2004), argued that however much Turkey tries to meet the conditions set by the 7
  8. 8. European Union, Europeans will not accept a Muslim country to join a “Christian Club” (p.95). This was stressed by Frits Bolkestein (Former EU Commissioner) who referred to Turkey as a “Muslim threat to Europe”. He argued that “Ukraine and Belarus were more European than Turkey and that Europe risk becoming predominantly Islamic” (Kubicek, 2005). According to Kubicek, (2005), Turkey has a different culture and history which disqualifies it from passing the “Europeaness “test. He also argued that since only 5% of Turkey’ population lives inside “Europe” (In relation to the European map), Turkey does not fit to be in the European Union (p.11). Some Europeans believe that Turkey is different and this will result into future problems in the E’U decision –making structure. Phillips (2004) argued that bringing in Turkey to the European Union will result into tremendous burden to the Europeans (p. 96). For Example, Turkey being so big and poor, vast portion of EU development fund will end up being channeled to Turkey. Many current EU members accessing EU development fund and other social policy program feel threatened by Turkey’s membership because a big portion of their assistance may be diverted to Turkey. The often cited argument against Turkey’s accession to the EU is that Turkey is poised to create a new balance of power in the European Union. Therefore, in order to down play European concerns over Turkey, European leaders have come up with different versions of Turkey’s accession to the European Union. According 8
  9. 9. to Phillips (2004), Germany and France have come up with different proposal that fall short of Turkey’s full membership to the European Union. For example France proposed a “Special Status” and Germany prefers a “Privileged Partnership” to be accorded to Turkey (p.96). However, Turkish leaders are determined for nothing less than full European membership. Kubicik (2005) agreed that the European Union is using double standards in dealing with Turkey accession to the EU. For example, France is advocating for EU member states to conduct a referendum before Turkey can join the European Union which was not the case with other newer former communist countries. The failure to ratify the EU constitution (2005 referenda) in France and Netherlands has been regarded as a sign of the growing anti-enlargement sentiments in Europe which will be detrimental to Turkey's EU bid. Conclusion: Turkey has undergone several political, economical and social reforms to satisfy the Copenhagen Criteria. The progress made by Turkey in meeting the Copenhagen Criteria is a clear indication of Turkey’s strong leadership and commitment towards European membership. However, further effort is still needed in the modernization of its economy, legal reform and the respect for Human Rights. On the other side, Europe should take a positive position in the accession negotiations and not use the pretext of culture and religion to slow down the negotiations of Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Turkey should be provided with the same terms and a leveled ground during the accession negotiations like Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Czech Republic etc. The negative 9
  10. 10. decision of the accession talks would be harmful to the strategic alliance of Turkey and the EU. Turkey’s accession will also be important in boosting economic and trade links between the EU and Turkey neighbors with abundant natural resources and energy reserves. Turkish membership to the EU will also send a strong message to the Muslim world that European can coexist with Muslim despite their cultural and religious differences. One can rightly conclude that with the new wave of anti-Islamic sentiments and high unemployment rate in Europe, Turkey is viewed by many Europeans as a threat to their social and economic welfare and many Europeans are doubtful of Turkey’s prospect to a full EU membership. Turkey’s big size and its poor population is a threat to the EU social policy (Common Agriculture Policy and other policies) because it will attract more development funds that would otherwise been allocated to other member countries. It is also believed that failure of the EU constitution referendum in France and Netherlands can be attributed to Turkey’s EU bid and the enlargement process in general. 10
  11. 11. References Dinan, D. (2005). Ever Closer Union: An Introduction to European Integration, 3rd Ed. Boulder: CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. European Union. (2004). The European Union: A Guide for Americans, Washington DC. Gilpin, R. (2000). The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Huntington, S. P. (1993). The Clash of Civilization?. Foreign Affairs, 72(3), 22-49. Kirisci, K. (2004). European Council Decision on Turkey: Is it a Historical Decision. TUSIAD Report, 1-10. Kubicek, D. (2005). Turkish Accession to the European Union: Challenges and Opportunities for the “New Europe”, Center for European Studies, University of Florida. Paris. Nas, C. (2004). EU and Turkey: Challenges and Opportunities in Enlargement. TUNACES and European Community Institute, 22, 1-4. Phillips, D.L. (2004). Turkey’s Dream of Accession. Foreign Affairs, 83(5), 86-97. Online Sources: %20Backgroundpaper.pdf 11
  12. 12. 12