Turkey in the European Union
Will Turkey Be Accepted for Membership in the EU?
In October 2005 negotiations began between Turkey (population 70 million) and the European Union (EU) for Turkey to be considered as a possible
member of the EU in the future.
While the European Union is working with Turkey to help it move toward being able to become a member of the European Union, there are some who are
concerned about Turkey's potential membership. Those opposed to Turkish membership in the EU point to several issues.
First, they state that Turkey's culture and values are different from those of the European Union as a whole. They point out that Turkey's 99.8%
Muslim population is too different from Christian-based Europe. However, the EU makes the case that the EU is not a religion-based organization,
Turkey is a secular (a non-religion-based government) state, and that 12 million Muslims currently live throughout the European Union.
Secondly, naysayers point out that since Turkey is mostly not in Europe (neither population-wise nor geographically), it should not become part of the
European Union. The EU responds that, "The EU is based more on values and political will than on rivers and mountains," and acknowledges that,
"Geographers and historians have never agreed on the physical or natural borders of Europe." Too true!
Finally, some are concerned that Turkey's large population would alter the balance of power in the European Union. After all, Germany's population
(the largest country in the EU) is only at 82 million and declining. Turkey would be the second largest country (and perhaps eventually the largest
with its much higher growth rate) in the EU and would have considerable influence in the European Union.
Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949 (the Council of Europe was founded the same year). Most
relatives and friends of Turkey consider Turkey 100% mediterranean and the northern mediterranean countries are all European; Syria in contrast is on
the eastern (not north) side of the Mediterranean thus part of Asia and the middle east. Most I know are offended to be lumped together with the
Additionally, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) the largest city of Turkey, is clearly physically part of Europe.
Turkey is the only islamic democracy in the world that I know of. Sure, physically Turkey sits on the crossroads between the subcontinent Europe and
wholly within the true continent Eurasia, but who is to say where Europe ends exactly and the Middle East begins? Especially considering most Turkish
don't consider themselves middle eastern, but rather, 'Euroriental' (as opposed to eastern europeans nor euroccidentals). I mean to say, Turkey
people generally pride themselves as the culture being of the exotic 'oriental' variety and locale within Europe.
Turkey is moving in overall a progressive direction as far as freedom, with for example the ban of the islamic headscarf. Yet, internet censorship and
a possible facebook/youtube ban in the country are pressing issues and stirring up protests nationwide. CIA handbook states that the populationof
Turkey is 100% Muslim. My own great great great grandparents on my father's side fled Anatolia & Greco-Syrian border because of the spread of Islam
(as Gypsies/Romani of eurasian heritage, similarly to the kurds, they resisted the practically uniform mass conversions, mostly by fleeing.. however
that was hundreds of years ago when Istanbul was the capital and they jumped on boats that took months to reach their new home, in the Caribbean).
Does the predominance of Islam in Turkey disqualify a European/Eurasian country from being European culturally?
Why did I start his thread anyways? Well, lately I've been stumbling into alot of Turkey-phobia all over the place.. one random latest example would
be when my aquaculture fish arrived late and sick/infected and I was looking for antibiotic online and encountered one exemplary sentiment in an ebay
ad of all places:
ONLY from countries whose people have NOT sworn themselves to our destruction. Nothing comes from the mid-east, china, or any of the current or
former Russian states, africa or the dominican republic. Nothing from Turkey either. I realize that technically it is a European country, but
culturally it seems to more closely resemble its close neighbors.
It struck a chord that despite this day and age where people are flying all over the country and experiencing and sharing between cultures as part of
one humanity, people still have such a vengeance toward clutures that don't resemble our own 'All American' culture.. how many centuries has
all-american culture been around, anyways?!
Anyhoo, Turkey PM Erdogan continues to campaign for European acceptance:
Visiting Berlin, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Germany to give greater backing to his country’s bid to join the
He stressed the role Ankara could play in conflict resolution, for instance, arguing that Turkish membership would benefit the bloc.
“The financial crisis, the global crisis, the Arab spring and events in Syria and Egypt have shown that the European Union needs Turkey more than
Turkey needs the EU,” he told the German Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.
With Germany the largest country of the EU and Turkey possibly outgrowing it if admitted, what are you ATSers opinions regarding Turkey's eligibility
to EU and as to how it might help (or not help) the region work together towards... world peace?
I don't think religion or culture should be a bar to membership, but they probably are in many people's eyes. Human rights and inequalities are a
real challenge - not only for the rest of Europe, but for Turkey as well. Would its government and citizens be prepared to accept the European
consensus on issues like gay rights, women's rights, censorship etc?
Islamophobia? I don't think so. Last time I checked, Albania also has a Muslim majority, and no one ever questioned their European heritage. Georgia,
on the other hand, is Orthodox Christian, and their claim to Europeanism has met lukewarm response at best. Religion is not the main factor here.
Turkey is a curious case. Located in Asia (the original Asia, in fact), speaking a Central Asian language, with heavy cultural ties to the Middle
East, and an antagonistic history with Europe for the longest time, I'm not even sure why they're claiming European identity to begin with. And
their supposedly democratic institutions are a bit doubtful. They've got an abysmal human right record. Not sure the EU feels like taking this road.
I dont know most the tukish i know are pretty secular
The muslims i know are pretty secular, on the whole. But i guess to decide to come to the US might require that sort of predisposition. There are
still deep cultural differences with some. But with others, the only difference between them and the local latin culture is the accent.
Yes, I imagine Islamophobia IS keeping Turkey from the EU, and I don't blame them at all, considering Tenets of Islam say others MUST convert or be
treated as second class citizens. When Turkey was a more secular country in the recent past, I was pleased to see how fair it was despite the usual
flaws of any government, but now..... it is becoming more and more a theocracy that plots against any of another religion. I do believe that Islam
attempts to force upon a person what should only be felt in the heart; what faith they belong to or believe in or even none at all. Faith does not
come from the barrel of a gun.
Well, Islam has a horrible PR department. I would say the Bloods and Crips rank higher in good PR than Islam.
I agree with you that what comes to western media seem to be most Salafi/Wahhabi influenced. The "normal Sunni"/Sufi/Shiite views is what I want to
know and how their beliefs measure up against the golden rule. Have read some Rumi and i can see him as a soul brother to Jesus and Buddha.
It is in a way like Jews and Zionists. Jews get blamed for the racist crappy things the Zionists do and the Zionists used the we are victim card all
What is your personal reason for wanting Turkey to be part of the EU? If I had to guess, I would say that you either have some close ties to the
culture, or are attracted to novel ideas. Just a couple of hunches.
Turkey would be useful as a mediator between Europe and Muslim countries.
But frankly, Turkey is not in Europe. Half of Istanbul borders on Europe, but geographically its just not Europe. The line of what constitutes Europe
has to be drawn somewhere, and historically, that line ends in Turkey.
On a similar note, where is the line drawn in the Northeast? Ukraine? Somewhere in Russia? Hard to say.
As you may know the EU is divided between the richer northern countries and the poorer southern countries which has resulted in bailouts by countries
like Germany to countries like Greece. It's a pretty serious problem.
Turkey has tried hard to become westernized, especially historically. That's why Ataturk forced the country away from the Arabic alphabet to a
westernized one and instituted many reforms designed to make Turkey a secular state. Islamic forces are still there, of course, and a case could be
made that they have increased influence more recently.
But one overwhelming problem is Turkey's monetary instability. Inflation has been monstrous. When I was there last it took 10 million Turkish Lira
to buy a cup of coffee. The Turks would joke that in Turkey everyone was a millionaire. There have been attempts at economic reform, including
chopping a few zeroes off the lira, but the underlying monetary issues are still there.
So leaving out the Islamic and cultural issues, including the rampant xenophobia, especially in Germany with "guest workers," and while
acknowledging Turkey's historical attempt to westernize, the monetary situation alone is quite enough to make the EU reluctant to have Turkey join.
It would be like seriously suggesting Mexico join the United States.
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