A Turkish delight?

Arguing over whether or not Turkey should join the European Union.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The member states of the European Union are at a crucial turning point. On Dec. 16, the EU will vote whether or not to begin discussions concerning the accession of Turkey into the community, and there are a number of factors that could have the vote go either way.

?This decision must not be taken lightly, as it can have ramifications that well be felt by nations across the globe.

There are many benefits of accepting Turkey into the EU. For starters, Turkey is a majority Islamic state, albeit not as strict as many. Incorporating Turkey into a European club would send a powerful message that would resonate with Islamic nations, destroying any of their notions that the West maintains conceptions that they are unable to cooperate with other nations, that their government styles are primitive and that oil and terrorism are essential to our involvement in the region.

The inclusion of Turkey would be an example of a diplomatic and inclusive approach to a global society, setting the foundations for a bridge between the Western and the Islamic regions and for a partnership dealing with a range of issues – from poverty to terrorism.

Those opposed to Turkey joining the EU were recently joined by Princeton historian and Western expert on Islam Bernard Lewis, who opined in an interview with the conservative paper Die Welt that Europe would be Islamic by the end of this century “at the very latest.” Lewis’ comment provoked discussion among those who feel the same that allowing Turkey into the EU might be a step in that very direction.

Such thoughts are no doubt alarmist considering the positives of Turkey joining the E.U., but it is true that admitting Turkey into the Union will force the admission of other eastern European countries under consideration.

Though about 75 percent of the country supports the idea, everything would not be good from the Turks’ perspective.

Turkey already has a less-than-perfect economy; two years ago, the country was struggling with a recession. Stricter trade regulations would do nothing to help that. It is not a stretch to think that Turkey would lean on the EU for economic support; it would be the poorest of the EU nations, in addition to the largest.

The idea of the EU having a large purse to aid these countries is a myth. We only have to think of the struggling economies brought into the EU with the inclusion of the states of the former Eastern Bloc. Also, if accepted into the EU, Turkey would have to comply with the union’s laws, including those dealing with relocation within the region.

In any case, Turkey’s entrance is not going to be so easy. Its presence on the island of Cyprus is likely to evoke a veto from the Nicosian government, one of the EU’s newest member states.

In addition, the majority of France, including former President Valiry Giscard d’Estaing who referred to the possibility as the “end of Europe,” is against the nation’s entrance into the community (this interestingly enough excludes President Jacques Chirac).

With Germany and Italy divided on the issue and considering bringing about a referendum, it seems that the U.K. and Ireland are leading support for Turkey’s inclusion. It would be surprising if Turkey makes it through the vote to open negotiations.

Essentially, when considering the European Union’s future, the road does not look favorable to the Turks.

Though the benefits could be enormous, there seems to be too much weighing on the “nay” side, at least immediately. Maybe we’ll see a greater deal of excitement about the next Islamic country with a population of 69 million that makes a bid to the EU.

Wilfred Codrington ’05 has more swing than Ohio.

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