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Turkey’s European Union membership or benefiting losers

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This year April 14 marks 25 years of Turkey’s official application for the European Union membership. Over this period 15 new members joined the organization, 4 countries became candidates and candidacy of 4 more countries came up on agenda.

Today Turkey’s European Union membership constitutes a cornerstone of discussions in the European community.

If we look at the history, we can see that the issue of Turkey’s European Union membership appeared on the agenda in 1959, the time when the organization was newly established and the country filed an official application for the EU associate membership. With signing of the Ankara agreement in 1963, Turkey progressed through the first stage to become an associate member of the organization. Though the 1980 coup d'état in the country caused stagnation in relationships, transition to the multiparty system revived discussions. On April 14, 1987 Turkey officially applied for the European Union membership. In 1996 Turkey joined the Customs Union, the first stage of membership and the issue of the country’s EU membership started to become active in 2000. A decision adopted in 2004 within the organization gave the green light to starting discussions in 2005. But unfortunately so far no real progress has been made in this direction.

Then such a question emerges: What is the main factor, hindering Turkey’s EU membership for 25 years. Of course, there are different reasons and we will list them below. But in our opinion, the main factor in this issue is the change of the world order and new interests of leading countries.

If we look at the system of international relations, we can vividly see that during the period of bipolar system, when two poles confronted each other, Turkey demonstrating frankness and loyalty played “the role of a shield” for the Western world against the totalitarian Soviet regime. Of course, this was the reason why Turkey was admitted to NATO so easily. The West needed a buffer region, “foreign native” to ensure its security: A country which would fight with determination and even be sacrificed when necessary. Turkey could properly fulfill this mission, because it was loyal to friendship, fearless, brave and courageous country. Thenation, which founded 16 empires and gave birth to the one which survived for six centuries, was at the time nearly equal to the entire Eastern Europe.

But the collapse of Warsaw bloc changed the situation. Russia was not already seen a source of danger for NATO, which indirectly reduced the need for Turkey. That is why the issue on Turkey’s EU membership was put on the back burner.

Let us consider factors frightening the West with respect to the Turkey’s European Union membership and look at them through the eyes of Europeans.

The West does not admit it openly, but Islamic identity of Turkey is in the first category of hesitations. Today we can see problems concerning integration of Muslim migrants in Europe into the societies where they live in. It can be said about Arabs living in France and Turks in Germany. In spite of the complete integration into society they prefer to live compactly in their districts.  Given the majority of migrants to Europe after Turkey`s joining the European Union will be from less developing regions of the country withcomparatively low level of education, we can clearly see how complex the situation is. In short, the European Union does not want to have the “Clash of civilizations” within the organization.

The second point making the West concerned about is the economic burden. The membership of Turkey, which is nearly equal to the Eastern Europe,will entailheavy financial costs for the European Union. Turkey has less developing regions which require huge investment. If the economic crisis occurs in such great countries in the future, it will affect all members of the organization.

The third point making the European Union cautious is associated with geopolitical trend. Today there are certain divisions within the organization. The organization’s two most powerful members, Germany and France want to see more independent European Union. Another powerful member of the Union, the United Kingdom sees the European community as the Transatlantic component. In this regard, Turkey’s joining the European Union and standing by the United Kingdommay paralyze the organization, because,in the event of confrontation, France and Germany could remain helpless againstUKsupportedby Turkey. The fact that Turkey’s European Union membership is more backed by the United States shows howright supporters of this theory are.

But the European Union is wrong. The Union does not realize that its greatest loss begins from the fact that Turkey is notthe EU member.

If Turkey becomes a member of the organization, the West would prove that the theory of conflict of civilizations, which is being formed in the international community, is baseless. The Union will prove that Europe is not a Christian club. It will demonstrate the advantage of assimilation of democracy, human rights, justice as universal values. It will also prove that the European Union is not inaccessible to those who are committed to these values. This will be an example for regional countries situated in the neighborhood of Turkey and be followed by the triumph of the above-mentioned universal values and creation of the atmosphere of confidence.

Turkey’s European Union membership could have serious a positive impact on the organization’s relations with Muslim states situated in the Middle East and Turkic-speaking countries in Central Asia. This will create a solid basis for improving the organization’s image in that regions as well as assimilation of universal values of these countries.

Another advantage of Turkey’s joining the European Union is opening of a new market for members of the Union and its economic effectiveness is doubtless. This market covers all spheres from economy to agriculture and service sector.

At last Turkey’s EU membership is of geostrategic importance for this organization as well as the entire West. So, the international community saw the increasing protests and response against unipolarity of the world today. New blocs such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS are alternatives to the West. Turkey’s non-accession to the European Union increases the possibility of its inclination towards these blocs. Building an alliance between Turkey which has economic, military, demographic and geopolitical power and such states is undesirable for the future of the West. The European Union should not see Turkey as a rival and allow the country joining the organization to ensure its future development. Accession of Turkey to the European Union meets the interests of the organization. Europe must think itself and see not only difficulties or short-term benefits, but its power or danger in the long run.

New Times

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