The European Union is no longer a coalition of governments based on their geographic location. Its influence and borders extend beyond Europe, incorporating drastically different countries. Joining the EU provides multiple benefits to a country, thus causing the temptation of numerous countries to satisfy the EU criteria. Turkey is a candidate for accession to the European Union, however, many political, social, and historic factors complicate and deter the process.
History of Trying to Join the EU
Turkey has been attempting to become an official part of the European community almost from the first years of the European Union’s predecessor – the European Economic Community. However, the ascension process itself would not start until the end of the Cold War. In 1989, the country applied for membership, which was acknowledged but deferred to later years. In 1995, Turkey entered a customs union with the EU and got the status of the Candidate in 1999. However, “the European Parliament voted to suspend negotiations in November 2016 and on 6 July 2017” (Müftüler-Baç, 2018, p. 122). As a result, Turkish 60-years long campaign of trying to join the EU was halted.
Turkey’ ascension to the EU has been compromised primarily by political factors. The Turkey’s conflict with Cyprus and war in the Balkans impeded the negotiations, with Cyprus sill being an unresolved issue today (Çelik, 2018). Despite being a member of the European Union, Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus. Another obstacle to Turkey’s accession is Greece, which has a history of tense relations with Turkey, including warfare in Cyprus in 1974 (Dokos, 2018). In summary, political and military choices of Turkey in the past obstruct the process of joining the EU.
The Pros of Joining the EU
Accepting Turkey as its member can produce substantial economic and strategic benefits to the European Union. Firstly, it will expand the EU’s power over the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Secondly, accepting Turkey will reduce the EU’s energy dependency on Russia, since Turkey is already a supplier of natural gas to the European countries. Thirdly, it will amplify the EU’s ethnic and social diversity, corresponding with the European values (Nimi, Amadi, & Daniel, 2018). Overall, Turkey would greatly enhance the European Union, solidifying its authority on the international arena.
The Cons of Joining the EU
Having Turkey inside among the members of the EU can backfire almost immediately. Firstly, the old grievances between Turkey, Greece and Cyprus would impede reaching a consensus on a supranational level. Secondly, the increase of the Muslim population in the European Union could exacerbate religious and ethnic tensions between the Europeans (Nimi et al., 2018). Thirdly, Turkey would acquire a large number of seat in the European Parliament outpassing member states that are less in size and population. As a result, Turkey’s accession can lead to the impairment of social and political stability in the European Union.
Altogether, Turkey’s endeavor to join the European Union represents the longest accession process in the history of the EU. Unresolved hostilities with Greece and Cyprus pose a major obstacle in accepting Turkey as a member state. While Turkey could potentially increase the economy, diversity and authority of the European Union, it could also stir religious and social tension and disenfranchize some member states in the decision-making process. The resulting conjunction of factors obstructs the accession process of Turkey to the EU.
Çelik, Ö. (2018). The future of Turkey-EU relations in a time of global uncertainty. Turkish Policy Quaterly, 17(1), 15-25. Web.
Dokos, T., Tocci, N., Palm, A., & Kasapoğlu, C. (2018). Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus dispute: impact on Turkey-EU scenarios. Feuture Online Paper, (27), 1-40.
Müftüler-Baç, M. (2018). Remolding the Turkey-EU relationship. Turkish Policy Quarterly, 17(1), 119-128.
Nimi, T. M., Amadi, O. S., & Daniel, I. (2018). Politics of Eu-Turkey relations; the pros and cons. International Journal of Science Inventions Today, 7(3), 440-450.