From the renaissance to the information age Western Europe was always the reference of modernity. Turkey’s adoption of the western secular approach has facilitated the country to transform and become a modern society. As such, its wish to enter the EU only seems expected. Its relationship with Europe, however, has been very complex, one with many ups and downs. The first formal association agreement between Europe and Turkey dates back to 1963. Objectives of trade, customs union and economic relations were set but it was not until 1987 when Turkey became an official candidate for membership. Despite this agreement, however, the Europeans have been prolonging the accession process, constantly delaying, debating and adding new conditions for entry. Questions of identity and what counts as ‘European’ have risen as EU nations think about their own national and collective self interests.
The controversy of integrating such a large Muslim nation is seen as certain members attempt to halt Turkey’s progress towards the EU while others see the nation as a strategic asset both geographically and culturally. The supporters of Turkey’s accession believe that having such a ‘buffer state’ within the union could potentially bring about the modernization of other Islamic states. The Union’s Western values would be further legitimized if Muslims would adhere to them as well. But what is exactly meant by the vague concepts of modernization and ‘Europeaness’? What are the qualifications and pre-requisites to become a member of this exclusive club? Throughout this paper I will attempt to show how Turkey is in fact inherently ‘modern’, although it has its unique cultural legacies that might seem to contradict this notion. As the Turkish Republic was built on values of secularism and rule of law, it can be argued that the EU has been serving as an “anchor rather then a trigger for domestic reforms” (Tocci, 74). Nonetheless, reservations of different... [continues]
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