“I show up and say women were entrusted to men by God. These feminists ….they do not have a link to our civilization, belief and religion.” (Today’s Zaman)
This most recent statement was made by Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is only one piece in a constant series of similar predications that aim to subordinate the role of women to men’s role in Turkish society. In his belief, equality between men and women is not in line with the religion of Islam. Unfortunately he is not alone with this belief. I would presume that more than half of all men share his view.
Such statements may influence the notion how women are regarded and treated in Turkish society. On 11 February 2015 the Turkish student Ozgecan Aslan was attacked by a bus driver who tried to rape her. She was killed by him. Now there are demonstrations in Turkey that stand up for women´s rights. And Recep Tayyip Erdogan? He does not see how his statements against gender equality might have encouraged men to act like this – on the contrary! Now, he vows in front of the public to personally put a stop to violence against women. Is it political staging or real regret?
This tragic incident which cost the life of a young student must make him finally aware – when no common sense does – that his notion is misguided.
About the author:
Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…
This is the last part of a series, discussing the pros and cons of an accession of Turkey to the European Union from all angles. Find the other parts here: First / Second / Third
In the third part of the series, I argued why Turkey should not become a member of the EU from the EU’s perspective. In this paper I focus on the argument from Turkey’s perspective. Basically the main arguments on “why Turkey should not become a member of theEU” are based on the cultural differences, corrupted European community, economic and political challenges within the EU.
As known the main argument against Turkey’s membership is based on the fact that Turkey has a big Muslim population while the EU’s member states have the reverse situation. In this case Turkey should not become a member of the EU because it has a historical symbol in the Islamic world. In the era of the Ottoman Empire, one of the largest and biggest empires in the world, the Sultans (1) were caliphates (2) at the same time. This difference based on religion is one of the double-standards applied by the Europeans against Turkey. For example, although there is no too big a difference between a Turk and a Greek, Greece is a member but Turkey is not. Their life styles, cuisines, cultures, and so on are very similar to each other but the only difference between them is based on religions within the societies: While a big part of Turkish population is Muslim, a big part of Greek population is Christian. From this point of view religion plays an important role for membership.
Also the argument in the eye of the Europeans that Turkey does not respect minorities is not true because when you visit Istanbul, an impressive city in the world, you can see mosque, church and synagogue together. This has been the same for many centuries all over Turkey but you cannot see this in many European states. There are still many European states that do not allow the European Muslims to establish their own mosques.
Thus, Turkey has its own history and background, so if it becomes a member, it can lose its socio-historical values.
Europe as a corrupted community
“[T]he European youth is on the verge of death.”
Today, the European youth is on the verge of “death”. They do not care about their lives. They consume a lot of alcohol every day. Annoyance, rape, violation, consumption of drug, and atheism are the situations seen very often in the European states. Thus, if Turkey becomes a member, these negative situations can spread to the Turkish society.
At the beginning of the 2000s, economic crises and corruptions were seen very often in Turkey. However, by the ruling government, the Turkish economy has been developing itself in a more positive way. Today, some EU member states have very critical economic challenges. For example, if we look at current economic data, Greece, Malta, Portugal, Spain and some others have economic crisis, so their economic challenges can affect the Turkish economy in a negative way.
Also, the rate of unemployment has been rising in Europe, so by becoming a member of the EU, the rate of unemployment in Turkey can rise.
Thus, we can deduce that the argument that “If Turkey becomes a member, the Turkish workers would invade the Europe” is completely wrong. In fact, the European workers may invade the Turkish economy.
“[T]he institutional structure of Turkey is not ready for such a position.”
The EU has a complex institutional structure. The Commission, Council, Parliament, Central Bank and many other institutions work unlike the institutional structure of Turkey. Also, most of the political decisions within the EU are taken in supranational or inter-governmental negotiations. Unfortunately, the institutional structure of Turkey is not ready for such a position.
Another important issue related to the argument above is based on the difficulty of applying the common policies of the EU to the Turkish politics. Especially the common foreign policy, common security policy and common monetary policy are always in the agenda. Because of this, when Turkey becomes a member, it has to share those common policies with other members.
Thus, if Turkey becomes a member of the EU, it has to share the EU’s institutional and political structures.
As a conclusion, cultural differences between Turkey and the EU, the possible effects of the corrupted European community, economic possibilities and some political challenges indicate that Turkey should not become a member of the EU.
The word coming from Arabic language “Sultan” is the Emperor of the Ottoman Empire. They are the highest rulers that are the members of the Ottoman dynasty.
The word coming from Arabic language “Caliphate” is a form of political-religious leadership which centres on the caliph to the prophet Muhammad, the final prophet that was sent for the whole humanity by the almighty the Allah. The position of a caliphate can be seen as the position of the Pope in the Catholic world.
About the author:
Hacı Mehmet Boyraz(21) is a student of International Relations with Political Science and Public Administration at Gediz University in İzmir.
This is the third part of a 4-part series, discussing the pros and cons of an accession of Turkey to the European Union from all angles. Check the blog regularly or sign up to our newsletter to be notified as soon as the final part is available. Find the other parts here: First / Second
In the previous 2 blogs I tried to explain why Turkey should become a member of the EU from both the EU’s and Turkey’s perspectives. In this and the following blog, I am focusing on the reverse: “Why shouldn’t Turkey become a member of the EU from the EU’s and Turkey’s perspective?”. In this blog, I am arguing from the EU’s perspective.
The main arguments in this passage are based on the problematic situation of Turkey’s neighbours, the uncertainties in the Turkish economy and politics, Turkey’s extremely big population, cultural difference in case of religion and some lacks in liberal democracy.
The most important difficulty for Turkey with regard to the membership is its very critical geopolitical location because when Turkey becomes a member, the border of the European Union at the east and north-east will extend to the Middle East and Caucuses, one of the most problematic areas in the current global politics. If we look at the map, we can easily see that Turkey is surrounded by anti-democratic states including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia. All of these states have different internal issues which force them to be undemocratic. Because none of them is interested in a “win-win” idea, there is no stability in the region for a long time. Furthermore, the most prominent two problems “ISIS” and “Syrian refugees” make Turkey’s regional policy weaker because both of them are the problems that have political and security aspects. Thus, if Turkey becomes a member of the EU, the EU will have to face such problems as these because of the common foreign and security policies.
“[T]his possible membership will force the EU to change its foreign and security policies.”
Behind the EU’s own ongoing problems including the Ukrainian problem with Russia, it will face more and more problems. Related to this issue, if Turkey becomes a member of the EU, the EU will have to open its borders to Turkey, so the refuges and migrants will arrive to Europe via Turkey. This would force the EU to change its migration policy. Briefly, this possible membership will force the EU to change its foreign and security policies. From this point of view, Turkey should have to wait a little bit longer.
Uncertainty in economy and politics
Although the Turkish economy has been for a decade developing in a positive way, it has still structural, fiscal and monetary problems. Especially the percentage of unemployment is still about 10% which is above the EU’s criteria. This is a structural problem in the Turkish economy, so in order to solve it it will take a long time. Also, inflation, another structural economic problem, the taxation system and the economic inequalities within the society are still visible. Thus, the membership of Turkey economically seems a little bit early.
A huge population
Another handicap of Turkey is its big population. Today’s population is about 75 million (without the refugees) but will be 80 million by 2020, so this is really too big for the EU to absorb it in short-run. Thus, Turkey’s population can change the EU’s demographic structure.
Religion as a cultural difference
“Turkey’s membership will be a signal.”
As a reality, most of people in the Islamic world see the EU as the Union of Christians. From this point of view, as having a 95% Muslim population, Turkey’s membership will be a signal that Europe is open to the Islamic world. However, this is really debatable because although there are millions of Muslims living in Europe, Turkey’s membership will bring 80 million new Muslims to Europe, so this is a situation that can change the demographic structure of the EU too.
Lack on liberal democracy
Honestly speaking, Turkey still has problems with human rights, women rights, labour rights and homosexual rights. Although the state has been improving on these issues for a couple of years, this is a long-time tradition. Thus, while the EU still has some problems with the consolidation of former member states, integrating Turkey will impose new problems on the EU.
To sum it up: The problematic neighbours, the uncertainty in economy and politics, a big population, the cultural difference in case of religion and lacks in liberal democracy indicate that Turkey will need a decade at least to become a member of the EU.
About the author:
Hacı Mehmet Boyraz(21) is a student of International Relations with Political Science and Public Administration at Gediz University in İzmir.
This is the second part of a 4-part series, discussing the pros and cons of an accession of Turkey to the European Union from all angles. Check the blog regularly or sign up to our newsletter to be notified as soon as the following parts are available. You will find the first part here.
In the previous article, I tried to clarify why Turkey should become a member of the EU from the EU’s perspective. In the second part, I will look at the issue from Turkey’s perspective instead.
Promoting democracy in Turkey via EU reforms
Turkey has been transforming itself into a more democratic country. Throughout its political history, Turkish people have seen 4 military coups, which made Turkey weak, but for a long time, Turkey has been enjoying that there has been no possibility of a new military coup. To be honest, this is due to the EU reforms made by today’s government. For example, the National Security Council was at the centre of Turkish politics because it was clear that it was often acting above the Grand National Assembly. When the negotiations between Turkey and the EU started, this issue (power of the Council) was one of the arguments against Turkey. The EU was right because in EU member states there is no such an institution which has more power than the National Assemblies. Today, Turkey is more democratic. Furthermore, the human rights record is much better; women’s rights are discussed every day; children’s rights are daily life’s debates and indeed animal rights are more visible… Thus, today, if we talk about rights, freedoms and related topics, the positive changes are due to the EU reforms, so when Turkey is a member, these values will be upheld better.
Travelling Europe without any visa
The most important benefit of being a member of the EU is of course “travelling Europe without any visa”. I, as a university student, like seeing new places but unfortunately since Turkey is out of the EU, I have to get visa every time. This makes me unhappy because every time I have to pay money, I have to collect documents, and I have to wait. However, when Turkey becomes a member, from Istanbul, an impressive city in Europe, to London, Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon, and many other capitals in the EU member states, the Turkish people will be able to travel more…
Working together for global peace
“Turkey cooperates extensively with the EU on almost every policy field including foreign policy issues. Turkey’s contribution to the EU’s security and defence policy is really clear. The EU is Turkey’s main economic and political partner. As a factor of stability in its region, Turkey’s membership to the EU would also contribute to regional and global peace and stability as well as the dissemination of universal values to a wider geography.” (1)
A greater voice in international arena
When Turkey becomes a member of the EU, it will have a greater voice in the international arena because the EU as a whole would include 29 countries. Instead of being alone in issues, Turkey with its friends within the EU will rule with a common foreign policy. This will make Turkey stronger because the problems of Turkey will be shared by other members like the problems of the EU will be shared by Turkey.
Also, although Turkey is not a member of the EU, it is a member of the Customs Union. The EU is Turkey’s main trade partner. 40% of Turkey’s total trade is with the European Union. Every year, total trade between Turkey and the EU increases. This underlines the importance of the EU as a large and secure market for Turkey. By the way, Turkey as a member will have more shares in international trade.
All in all, Turkey has been a part of the European family for a long time. “Since the foundation of the Republic, Turkey has taken part in almost all European institutions, in most of them as a founding member. Turkey has made considerable contributions to the formation of the current European architecture through the constructive role it played within international organizations such as the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO and OSCE.” (2) So the membership of Turkey to the EU will be based on a “win-win” situation. Everybody will be more pleased…
This is the first part of a 4-part series, discussing the pros and cons of an accession of Turkey to the European Union from all angles. Check the blog regularly or sign up to our newsletter to be notified as soon as the following parts are available.
The relationship between Turkey and the European Union (EU) has lasted more than 50 years. Although in the past there have been ups and downs, Turkey is still interested in being a member of the EU. The possible membership of Turkey to the EU has many pros for both sides. Turkey’s geographical position as a bridge between Europe and Asia, its host of different cultures and its secular political and constitutional structure make it visible and important. In this paper, I will try to explain why Turkey should be a member of the EU from the EU’s perspective.
Promoting the motto “United in Diversity”
For many centuries, Europe has been home to many different cultures and civilizations. Like the EU, Turkey hosts many different cultures, such as Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Azerbaijan, Greek, as well as many religions, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and many others. All of these are in relative harmony with each other. This means that if Turkey becomes a member, the motto of the EU “United in Diversity” will be promoted. At that point, I have to remind you of something. It is known that Turkey is a secular and democratic country as well as the fact that its population is mainly Muslim. To be honest, in the Islamic world the EU is seen as the Union of Christians, so the most important impact of Turkey’s membership will be a signal that Europe is open to the Islamic world.
A stronger voice in international arena
With globalization, something happening in a part of the world can have an impact in other countries. For example, a change at the New York Stock Exchange can cause a disaster in London. Or a political crisis in the Middle East can easily make the USA to be worried about it. To eliminate the negative power of globalization, countries have to stick together. In Turkish there is an idiom about this issue: “One hand has a voice, but two hands have more voice”. So instead of alone or excluded from others, the EU should be closer to Turkey to be stronger.
“As a member of the EU, Turkey can re-invigorate Europe’s relations with fast evolving regions like the energy rich Caucasus and Central Asia, to the new Middle East that emerging from the new events. Turkey’s unique geo-strategic position, plus the strength of NATO’s second-largest army would greatly add to European security, too.” (1)
I, as a university student, have visited some countries within and beyond the European Union. During my trips, I realized that there is an aging population in member states, so of course the population of the EU is aging. At the same time, today’s Turkish population is very young and increasingly well-educated. The young population in Turkey is about 40 million. You cannot see this youth power anywhere else, so I think that the aging EU should consider this demographic aspect of Turkey as a soft power.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis at the beginning of 2010 has created economic recessions in some member states of the EU. If we look at, for example, Greece, Spain, Portugal and some others we can easily see this scenario. At the same time, for a long time, the Turkish economy has been growing and it has more stability. Today, Turkey is a part of G20 but hopes to be the G9 of G8 in a short time. Moreover, the membership of Turkey will add 75 million consumers to the single market. This indicates that if Turkey becomes a member of the EU, both sides will benefit economically.
Briefly, Turkey and the EU need each other politically, economically and culturally in today’s globalized world. When Turkey is a member, the EU and Turkey will share both happiness and sadness. Thus, if Europe is to become an active global player, rather than a museum, it needs the fresh perspective and energy of Turkey.