Arguments and Implications for Turkey's Accession to the EU
The possible accession of Turkey to the European Union is at the center of the controversy surrounding the EU's enlargement. Given the disparate histories of the EU member states, Turkey's own complex and battle-scarred history, and nationalistic considerations, the question of whether Turkey will ultimately be accepted as an EU member, with full rights and privileges, is one to which there are few clear-cut answers.
The debate surrounding this issue continues to gain momentum both in Turkey and in the European Union. France, with President Nicholas Sarkozy in the forefront, has taken a lead in opposing Turkey's prospective membership in the EU. The referendum on the EU Constitution brought to the fore the French public's reservations (Gauthier-Villars and Champion). Mr. Sarkozy stated, "I have not changed my mind: Turkey has no place in Europe, If I pose the question of Turkey, there will be no simplified treaty" (qtd. in "Sarkozy"). Sarkozy's comments are reflective of concerns not only about whether Turkey meets the EU's political criteria for accession, but also concerns that the Turkish accession will not be able to be managed in a way similar to other enlargements. Critics of Turkish accession also contend that "Turkey is too big, too poor, with too dangerous borders and insufficiently European' to join the Union" (Hughes 1). An analysis of the historical context, along with the arguments for and against Turkish membership in the EU, is essential to identifying the possible political and economic implications of Turkish accession to the EU for the Union itself. History of Turkey's Bid for EU Membership
Since Turkey was founded in 1923, it has been known as a secular democracy, with a predominantly Muslim population and strong ties with the West. Only 2% of Turkey's territory lies within the European Continent, according to Professor Sophie Meritet, in her lecture on the EU's structure. Journalist Susan Sachs writes, "Turkey has been an associate member of the European Union for more than 40 years and a full NATO member for even longer. But its path to the European Union had been blocked by its longstanding conflicts with neighboring Greece, its occasional military coups, human rights shortcomings and recurring financial crises" (par. 16). Without a doubt, Turkey has encountered several obstacles in its bid for full EU membership.
The web site Euractiv.com provides a chronology of some events involved in Turkeys' bid for accession to the EU. This history is crucial to understanding the issues currently at play. The first significant step came in February 1952, with Turkey's full membership in NATO. In 1959, Ankara applied for associate membership in the European Economic Community and, in 1963, signed the Ankara Agreement, which integrated Turkey with the European Customs Union and acknowledged Turkey's ultimate goal of full EEC membership. The first financial protocol was also signed in 1963, followed by the signing of the Additional Protocol and the second financial protocol in Brussels in 1970. In January 1973, the Additional Protocol became effective, setting out how the Customs Union would be established. With Turkey's invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and the military coup d'etat on 12 September 1980, relations between Turkey and the European Community came almost to a standstill in the early 1980s ("EU-Turkey Relations"). A turning point was reached in September 1986, when the Turkey-EEC Association Council meeting resumed the association process and, in April 1987, Turkey applied for full EEC membership.
The European Commission responded in December 1989 with a refusal to begin accession negotiation. Although confirming Ankara's eventual membership, Turkey's economic and political situation, as well its poor relations with Greece and conflict with Cyprus, were cited as creating an unfavorable...