Expanding Europe: The Ethics of EU-Turkey Relations

By Diez, Thomas | Ethics & International Affairs, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Expanding Europe: The Ethics of EU-Turkey Relations


Diez, Thomas, Ethics & International Affairs


The possible future European Union (EU) membership of Turkey has be come one of the most hotly debated topics both in the EU and within Turkey itself. It is true that previous EU enlargements have also attracted the attention of the wider public, but this time the arguments are exchanged with a great deal more heat and fervor. Many of these arguments are couched in terms of self-interest: "Turkey will flood us with cheap labor migrants," claim opponents within the EU, whereas advocates of Turkish membership cite strategic security interests in bringing a predominantly Muslim state from the broader Middle East into the fold.

Nonetheless, underlying this debate are competing principles of international ethics. It is too easy simply to dismiss those citing a concern for European values (whatever these may be) or the capacity of the EU to function properly as being merely self-interested actors trying to defend their economic or political position. On the contrary, their concerns go to the heart of the core questions of international ethics: Do we have responsibilities that go beyond our immediate political community? Are there different values that require different political orders? If so, where can we draw borders and how can we defend these borders in order to defend our values?

The Turkish case is of particular interest in relation to these questions because it highlights the problems of applying principles of a world of states to one in which this order is increasingly transcended and processes of "de-bordering" and "re-bordering" are taking place. At least in Europe, the EU is the main example of this change. The debates about Turkish membership are conducted in such a heated fashion not least because of the challenge that the integration process poses to our traditional understandings of the main principles on which the international order is founded. In this context, the demands for public participation in decision-making do not go (or at least no longer go easily) hand in hand with the demands for international justice.

It is this conundrum that requires us to look beyond the established lines of communitarianism and cosmopolitanism in their various forms when addressing the future of Turkey-EU relations from an ethical viewpoint. The principles I put forward in this essay as an alternative build on both Habermasian and what one may refer to as "postmodern" ethics, two strands of argumentation that, despite their differences, have more in common than is often acknowledged. Both share a commitment to take on responsibility toward the "Other" beyond our own community; to foster a plurality of viewpoints and reject totalitarianisms; and to take a skeptical attitude toward any simplistic "either/or" rendition of international politics. These principles lead to an endorsement of membership negotiations between Turkey and the EU, but not to an unqualified endorsement of Turkish membership.

THE ARGUMENT AGAINST TURKISH EU MEMBERSHIP

From the viewpoint of international ethics, there are two main arguments against Turkish EU membership. The first one is broadly value-based and applies a narrow and closed conception of communitarianism; the second one questions the capacity of the EU to take on Turkey as a member and worries about the survival of the achieved political order.

The value-based argument presupposes that: (1) the predominance of different values is distributed on a geographical basis; (2) such value differences matter to communities, so they are worth preserving; and (3) the difference between Turkey and the present EU member states is sufficiently greater than that among member states, so it is justifiable to treat Turkey differently and to deny membership. The simple reference to Turkey being a Muslim country runs into great difficulties here. Leaving aside the theological question of whether there are values intrinsic to Islam that stand fundamentally opposed to "Christian" values, this argument ignores the presence of strong Muslim communities in the EU, and it runs against the history of secularism in most EU member states, which would disallow religion as a criterion for eligibility to participate in political life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Expanding Europe: The Ethics of EU-Turkey Relations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.