Turkey and the European Union – Political Science
In this essay we are going to argue against the admission of Turkey to the European Union. We shall start with introducing the Turkish country itself, and then move on to its economy and the other states’
influence in Turkey. Furthermore, our work concentrates on reforms that are supposed to be done by this time and mainly on human rights. Since the issue of human rights is extremely broad, we decided to divide it in three parts – the Kurdish rights in general, the issue of Cyprus without the border that divides the island to two parts and the Armenian genocide problem. Let us start with the geographical position. Turkey neighbors with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The modern Turkish state was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal –“Ataturk”-“Father of all the Turks” after the defeat of remnants of the Ottoman Empire. The first regime was based on only one party and it might be considered authoritarian. After the opposition party was created and won the election, the democracy has suffered a hard blow. There have been several military coups and the result was only one: the Turkish people lost their democracy. Cyprus has been taken over by the Turkish military and the insurgency of the Kurds has begun. Now the government says that it is trying to pass certain reforms that would allow Turkey to enter the European Union and reinforce democracy in the state.
The Turkish government is officially democratic and its civil system is very similar to other European countries, but the culture of the country is more middle – eastern. Turkey is also a member of the European Court of Human Rights, which we are finding quite hypocritical because of the country’s attitude towards the Kurds. Turkish economy is also composed out of many models seen around the world. It is necessary to say that there should be established a market system very soon as another thing that had to be done long time ago. The statistics may show that the economy is on the rise and the EU is going only to benefit out of Turkey’s membership. That might be not true entirely. The unemployment rate is 9.3 % and the underemployment is 4.0 %. Besides that, Turkey is in a quite high debt, whole 15.3 billion USD. These are very high numbers compared to the other countries of the EU. Out of this we can conclude that many people live in poverty. In 2003 it was whole 28.1% of the population who lived below the food and non-food poverty line. Turkey is ranked on the index of Human Development with number 94. Countries like the United Kingdom and Germany have the HDI at 15 and 20. Just for the comparison it is important to note that even Cyprus has the HDI at 29. The other great issue in Turkish government and businesses is a corruption. According to a research done by Transparency International, Turkey has a CPI Score (relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt)) of 3.5. Taken into account that the Slovenia’s CPI is at 6.1 must explain that Turkey is highly disadvantaged compared to other candidate countries. Out of that difference we can presume that the level of corruption is going to rise in the European Union which is absolutely undesirable. Based on the facts and statistical reasoning discussed above, it is very probable that Turkey will not be a valid member of the Union; neither will it boost the economy of the EU.
Shall we take a look at the international relations; we can see that this country has many links towards the United States. The U.S. gave and loaned 12.5 billion dollars for the economic aid and more than 14 billion dollars for the military. This also indicates that Turkey is emphasizing more military than peaceful solutions. That should not be the case of a country that wants to join the union of states that value diplomacy and negotiation the most. Turkey has many business contracts with the U.S. and is also the third export partner for them. Most of these economical ties were formed during the Cold War when Turkey was a country nearest to the communist block. The influence of the United States is very powerful there and we were able to find out about it during the war on Iraq when the Turks did not want to allow the U.S. troops to deploy in their country but later on they reconsidered and let the Americans to establish their bases in Turkey. There is no debate that there were some economic sanctions in the background.
The weight owner of turkey is its people.70 millions people constantly in increase due to a high natality which is 2.2 kids per women which is the highest in all Europe. According to researches, by 2020 turkey should be inhabited by 85 million people. Since it is programmed that turkey will enter the European union in 2015 it will be the most populated country of Europe, followed by the german population in second place with 82 million.
In consequence to that number Ankara will send 95 deputies to the European parliament, which will be the maximum number allowed by the Future Constitution, so Turkey will have the majority of votes estimated by 15%, followed by Germany having 14% and France having 12 % of the votes. Another consequence for the Turkish adhesion to the European Union is: immigration. According to the numbers of the European Union, between 500 000 and 4.4 million Turks could emigrate to Germany, Austria, Holland and France to join their 4 million relatives already living in the EU. Even if the free circulation of workers and employees is one of the reasons of the foundation of the EU, can the EU really let the Turkish people in to an entity where most likely they will be treated as citizens of a second degree zone without some serious alterations in its laws?
Since 1992, Ankara has shown big interest in the originally Turkish speaking republics newly separated of the ex USSR : Azerbaidjan,Kazakhstan, Kirghistan ,Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, immediately recognized their independence and helped them to enter the international and regional organizations, with the dream of one day reforming the BIG TURKEY. The first step was the creation of the Tika ( Turkish International cooperation agency) as a part of the Ministry of foreign affairs, with the function of promoting the Turkish model and the cultural cooperation through numerous projects like the establishment of a language and an alphabet common for all the Turkish speaking countries, student exchange and the support of media and communicational projects which means that Turkey admits the double nationality of the citizens of these countries and would accord it to anyone who demands it. And there is no doubt that these citizens will claim their Turkish citizenship if it was a part of the European Union. These countries have a total of 60 million people, were ruled during 70 years by communism and profoundly integrated in Islam and to whom the Copenhagen Criteria are just as understandable as Quantum physics. This would be an enormous shock to the EU.
One more problem arising with turkey entering the EU is the Cyprus matter. Despite the Nicosian international pressure and threats to put its veto against the Turkish integration to the EU, Turkey still does not recognize the Greek part of Cyprus as an independent European country. How can a country be integrated to the European Union if it does not recognize the independence of a fellow country in the EU?
The main requirements for Turkey’s enter to EU are The Copenhagen Criteria, which were introduced in year 1993 at Copenhagen by European Council. These criteria are divided in three main parts Political – stability of institutions which provide democracy, legally consistent state, observance of human and minority rights. Economical – existence of functional market economy, ability to balance with competitive pressures and market processes inside EU. Other obligations – ability to take on obligations which are resulting from membership in EU, including goals of political, economical and monetary union. This means that Turkey must satisfy these requirements in order to join the EU. Although Turkey has made some progressive changes in their constitution and legislative, and these changes were warranted by regular report on Turkey’s progress towards accession created by Commission of the European Communities in October 2004, this report seems to be misrepresented. For instance, the authorities have adopted zero tolerance policy against toward torture but even while torture is now not systematic, these cases reported by various human rights associations still occur. Also recent Constitutional amendments and new press law made for increasing press freedoms doesn’t seem to be fair enough. These changes provide only limited progress in freedom of expression. Censorship still remains in some levels and in a number of cases journalist and other citizens expressing non violent opinion continue to be prosecuted.
Other issue is freedom of religion, although it is guaranteed by Constitution, non-Muslim religious communities still have difficulties with legal personality, property rights and training of clergy.
Gender equality principle has been also changed in Constitution and Civil Code, but the position of women in society is still unsatisfactory. Virginity test is now prohibited but still can be done by court order and also “honor killings” though it has been prohibited under the sentence of life imprisonment still remain as a major problem. Civil rights of minorities are another problem. Although Turkey has changed the Constitution and Kurds are now allowed to speak, teach and broadcast in their language, the way how it is provided seems to be discriminative. Minority language education is not something that should be permitted, but has to become a right. Also timing and contents of programs in Kurdish are very limited.
Other big part is economical situation in Turkey. Despite of all its progresses, Turkey still does not reach the standards of real market economy. The value of GDP on one Turkish inhabitant recounted on purchasing power parity reaches only 27% of EU’s average and Turkey is taking position behind Romania and Bulgaria. Also Turkish government tries to intervene in their economy in order to lower the inflation which in despite of this already reaches high values. Although the rate of Turkish unemployment is not much bigger then in other states of union, the employment of women is alarming, it is 50% less then in EU. Also the national debt is about 90% of its GDP and this cause that the Turkey is one of the most indebted countries of the world. Therefore we can suppose that even second part of Copenhagen Criteria was not satisfied. Last issue is obligations that Turkey must take in order to join the EU. Though Turkey’s alignment has progressed in many areas, it still remains at an early stage for most chapters. For example no changes have been made concerning free movement of persons and workers. There are still remaining restrictions regarding nationality, residence and language, and also problems with recognition of academic diplomas and professional qualifications. Next problem is concerning freedom to provide services, where some changes took place, but only for financial services and except for insurance. Non-financial services are still bounded by market access restrictions which are excluding foreigners from the market. And with certain services, Turkish legislation goes even further, barring them from being provided by foreign nationals even if the company they represent is established in Turkey. Also free movement of capital is limited. Foreigners are restricted to make an investment even if improvements in this area would contribute to facilitate inflow of foreigner direct investment. Even the issue of transport seems to have its other difficulties. Though some modifications were made there, especially maritime transport remains as major problem. Turkey is still on the black list of the secretariat of the Paris Memorandum of understanding on Port State controls for its higher rate of detention ships. Cypriot ships or ships that have landed in Cyprus are still not allowed to enter the Turkish ports. In summary we can say that on the first look, Turkey nearly fulfilled the Copenhagen criteria, but if we look more deeply we find out that recent changes in constitution and legislative are superficial. Turkey took these changes just for satisfying the EU, but the situation in the state remains same as before. Therefore we can suppose that Turkey is not willing to make a real progress in order to become an equal member of the European Union.
The Cyprus issue is a typical international problem of invasion and occupation of one
Member-state of the UN by another, namely Turkey. Twenty-three years after the Turkish invasion and defying a series of U.N. Resolutions, Turkey refuses to withdraw its occupation forces. At present, more than 35.000 Turkish troops are illegally stationed in the northern part of Cyprus, which is characterized by the Secretary General of the U.N., as one of the most highly militarized areas in the world. Also, The Cyprus issue is a flagrant case of continued mass violations of basic human rights and freedoms by Turkey, in breach of the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and major international instruments in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Numerous Resolutions of the U.N., including those of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have been adopted over these 24 years, concerning all aspects of violations of human rights in Cyprus. Turkey has failed to comply with any of them. The nearly 200.000 Greek Cypriots (40 % of the total number of Greek Cypriots in 1974) who were forcibly expelled from their homes by the Turkish invading forces in 1974 are still being prevented from returning there and are refugees in their own country. They continue to be arbitrarily deprived of their homes and property in the occupied area, which are gradually being illegally distributed by the Denktash regime to other persons, such as members of the Turkish occupation army and settlers form mainland Turkey. Finally, while the continued occupation of 37% of Cyprus by Turkey is an international issue and not a bilateral problem between Greece and Turkey, it puts a very severe strain in Greco-Turkish relations. A just viable solution of the problems caused by the 1974 invasion would lead to a substantial improvement in relations between Greece and Turkey. It would also remove a major obstacle to the further strengthening of Turkey’s relations with the E.U. 24 years after Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of Cyprus, turning over 200.000 of its inhabitants into refugees, the problems created by the Turkish invasion remains unsolved. The end of the Cold War marked the beginning of a new era, in which respect and cooperation between nations, commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law are recognized as being of capital importance. Within this new environment, the Cyprus issue is not only a glaring anachronism but also continues to be a factor of potential instability in the South-Eastern Mediterranean. Hence, besides a moral obligation, the international community has an additional reason to contribute to the efforts for a just and viable solution. At least 15 percent of Turkey’s population consists of ethnic and religious minorities. Turkey’s Constitution provides a single nationality designation for all Turks and thus does not recognize ethnic groups as national, racial, or ethnic minorities. Citizens of Kurdish origin constituted a large ethnic and linguistic group. Millions of the country’s citizens identified themselves as Kurds and spoke Kurdish. Kurds who publicly or politically asserted their Kurdish identity or publicly espoused using Kurdish in the public domain risked public censure, harassment, or prosecution. However, Kurds who were long-term residents in industrialized cities in the west were in many cases assimilated into the political, economic, and social life of the nation, and much intermarriage has occurred over many generations. Kurds migrating westward (including those displaced by the conflict in the southeast) brought with them their culture and village identity, but often little education and few skills. As part of its fight against the PKK, the Government forcibly displaced noncombatants, failed to resolve extrajudicial killings, tortured civilians, and abridged freedom of expression. The PKK committed widespread abuses, including the frequent murder of noncombatants, as part of its terrorism against the Government and civilians, mostly Kurds. Estimates of the total number of villagers forcibly evacuated from their homes since the conflict began vary widely from 330,000 to 2 million. A credible estimate given by a former Member of Parliament from the region is around 560,000. The initiation of armed insurrection by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkere Kurdistan—PKK) in 1984, along with the increasing international media interest in the Kurds of Iraq beginning in the mid-1980s, compelled some members of Turkey’s political elite to question government policy toward the country’s Kurdish population. Turgut Ozal, who became prime minister in 1983 and president in 1989, broke the official taboo on using the term Kurd by referring publicly to the people of eastern Anatolia as Kurds. Subsequently, independent Turkish newspapers began using the term and discussing the political and economic problems in the eleven predominantly Kurdish provinces. In 1991 Ozal supported a bill that revoked the ban on the use of Kurdish and possession of materials in Kurdish.
I think that human rights are the biggest issue why Europeans don’t want Turkey to enter the European Union. How should we allow entering EU a country which doesn’t support human rights? As we know Turkish people had a lot of time to change – almost 20 years. And I think it is not possible to change the mentality of a nation, only if all individuals in this nation want to change their way of life. In Turkey, individuals don’t have a right to discuss the human rights; it is still limited freedom of speech and press. The Government, particularly the police and judges, limited freedom of expression through the use of constitutional restrictions and numerous laws as Penal Code articles 312 (incitement to racial, ethnic, or religious enmity); 159 (insulting Parliament, the army, republic, or judiciary) and 160 (insulting the Turkish Republic). Individuals can not criticize the Government publicly without fear of reprisal. Government continue to restrict expression by individuals sympathetic to some religious, political, and Kurdish nationalist or cultural viewpoints. People who have active debates on human rights and government policies, and particularly on issues relating to the country’s EU membership process, the role of the military, Islam, political Islam, and the question of Turks of Kurdish origin as “minorities”; these people risk by wrote or spoke out on such topics prosecution. Here are some examples what can happend to anybody in Turkey for freedom speech and using other language as Turkish. Parliamentary candidate Ruknettin Hakan was for 6 months imprisonment for “making propaganda speeches in a language other than Turkish.” Other case is, when authorities arrested and indicted teacher Hulya Akpinar for comments she made during a conference on the alleged genocide of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. Prosecutors charged other six teachers for following Akpinar out of the conference. Akpinar was temporarily dismissed from duty following her arrest. According to “Reporters Without Borders”, four journalists were in jail at the end of 2002 for speech violations. The Committee to Protect Journalists claimed there were 13 journalists in prison at the end of 2002. According to the Government, there were no journalists held on speech violations in either 2002 or the reporting period, although at year’s end, there were 34 prisoners claiming to be journalists who were charged with a variety of crimes. The different figures reflected disagreement over which prisoners were legitimate journalists, and which were jailed for carrying out their journalistic duties. How we can see Turkey does not make any progress in issue of freedom of speech. So, how Turkey can become part of EU when they do not have the most important human right as it is freedom of speech. Other problem in Turkey is problem with Kurdish and their language. It was a lot of cases when people were rested and had problems just because of using this language. The law allows broadcasts in the traditional languages of the country, other than Turkish, including Kurdish. But there are some regulations of using Kurdish language and so it is set strict time limits on such broadcasts as 45 minutes per day, 4 hours per week on radio and 30 minutes per day, 2 hours per week on television. There is also regulations which require that non-Turkish radio programs have to be followed by the same program in Turkish and that non-Turkish television programs have to have Turkish subtitles. Also parliament passed legislation to establish of language courses teaching traditional non-Turkish languages. But local authorities had not given permission for any such courses to open. On south-east has found that Kurdish language education is high and in spite of it there was closure of all 7 of the area private language schools. Governments said that it was because of lack of interest from students and for failing to provide adequate legislative and material support to enable the school survive. Also there was some actions, of police harassment, were taken against the pro-Kurdish DEHAP party. Police arrest DEHAP Chairman Tuncer Bakirhan and singer Haluk Levent, and six others in connection with a concert in Germany during a Kurdish cultural festival. Concert participants reportedly displayed KADEK-related pictures and banners; authorities charged the detainees with separatist propaganda. There is also Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) and non-government organization which is independent voluntary association of people acting together on a continuous basis, for some common purpose, other than achieving government office, making money or illegal activities. NGO in Turkey says: “Every single day we receive a petition from Kurdish people who have been forcibly removed from their land, whose relatives disappeared or have been killed, or who have been tortured.“ Here is other example why Turkey should not enter the EU: Turkish people and government can live with other nation then theirs, they limit Kurdish people and they my start limited European countries and nation after enter the European Union.
I conclusion, based on the facts given in our essay, we assume that the entering of Turkey to the European Union would be only a loss for the EU and therefore it is undesirable. The main obstacles are still human rights and the attitude towards the Kurds and Cyprus. In addition, Turkey does not meet the basic requirements given to them by Copenhagen. Moreover, the membership of Turkey could endanger the economical and political consistency of the Union, cause extremely high migration into the Western Europe and cause crime problems.