Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration, and International Dynamics

Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration, and International Dynamics

Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration, and International Dynamics

Turkey and the European Union: Domestic Politics, Economic Integration, and International Dynamics

Synopsis

Turkey's relations with an enlarging European Union have long been hit by recurrent crises and problems of adjustment within internal domestic politics as well as from an external, international relations perspective. Provides an up-to-date review of relevant issues from both perspectives. Analyses focus on the significance of EU adjustment processes for Turkish domestic politics and public opinion. From the perspective of economic dynamics, analyses focus on the impact of a customs union with the EU and the issues surrounding the impending economic policy adjustments. Justice and home affairs issues and human rights practices are two areas where specific policy adjustments are needed in order to conform to the Copenhagen criteria. These adjustments are seen as touching on sensitive domestic politics issues and the analyses herein evaluate the recent developments in these policy areas. In light of these discussions, the book provides an overall evaluation of Turkey's bid for full membership in the EU.

Excerpt

Barry Rubin

The question of European Union (EU) membership is undoubtedly one of Turkey's most important foreign policy problems and also-as this series of studies makes clear-an extremely powerful domestic issue as well. This situation should not be taken for granted since, after all, it is an extraordinarily unusual one.

Dozens of countries in the last century have joined many international organizations without this issue becoming a focal point of their identity or the key political controversy of the day for them. in fact, it could be argued that the question of Turkish membership in the eu is proportionately the most important issue of this type for any state in history.

Why is this so? Clearly, while the country would receive certain benefits from eu membership of an economic nature-and less so regarding strategic and migration considerations-the eu question has understandably achieved mythic proportions for Turkey far beyond any material factors. It has become no less than the symbol for the successful completion of the long-term Ataturk revolution, involving the most basic and vital points of identity and orientation for Turkey.

To be a full “member” of Europe would mean Turkey's total, irrevocable acceptance as a Western state. It would mark the fulfillment of 80 years of labor and transformation for the Turkish people and state. While Moscow's former satellites crave eu membership as a symbol and promise of their permanent liberation from Russian control, no one else has such a stake in joining that organization as does Turkey.

By the same token, European opposition to Turkey's rapid and full incorporation in the eu also assumes tremendous importance for Turks. Clearly, there are a wide variety of factors slowing or blocking Turkey's admission to the eu. But in Turkey there is an understandable suspicion-which is often correct-that the basis for these hesitations go far beyond technical problems. For if Turks see membership as such a vital proof of Turkey's European and civilized nature, opposition to Turkey's entrance is construed as a rejection of those principles by those who hate, look down on, or discriminate against Turkey.

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