TURKEY NEEDS TO ERADICATE POLICIES BEFORE BEING GRANTED EU MEMBERSHIP
by Taleen Babayan
Tufts Daily, MA
Oct 6 2005
In the editorial on Tuesday, Oct. 4, “Stop Teasing Turkey,” it was
stated the European Union should make a firm decision about Turkey’s
potential entry as a member state. The EU is being circumspect in
its decision-making process to exercise judicious judgment before it
opens its doors to Ankara.
Turkey, in its eagerness to gain a foothold in Europe – a dream that
has eluded this basically Asian country for centuries – has multiplied
its efforts to join the European Union. In strictly geographical terms,
to consider Turkey a part of Europe is a stretch.
The vehement opposition exhibited by some European countries, including
Austria and Belgium, against Turkey’s joining to the European Union
is well founded.
By the time negotiations are scheduled to be completed -ten years –
the country will have a population well over 85 million. Adding 20
million to the European population is a point of concern.
Anakara must resolve a slew of thorny issues that Europe regards as
prerequisites for membership: the Kurdish issue, Cyprus, judicial
reforms, recognition of the Armenian Genocide and real partnership
with the West. The country has taken a hesitant, at best, stance on
these issues. Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan has tip-toed around
these issues without adopting a decisive position. Case in point:
He expressed a muted desire to normalize relations with neighboring
Armenia, yet he keeps the common border with it closed, thus choking
the country economically.
Even though Ankara has always pursued pro-western, secular policies,
Turkey stands in stark contrast culturally to Europe. The prime
minister has Islamist credentials, he was jailed on charges of
incitement, yet he is the most secular leader in recent memory. He
purports to be friendly with the West, yet his government refuses
to provide bases to coalition forces in its offensive against Saddam
Ankara needs a new breed of leaders who are visionaries, not
pragmatists. Turkey should emancipate itself from the past. If Ankara
is determined to join the “Western Club,” it should undertake bold
initiatives. It should break away from dogmatic positions. Turkey
should give cultural-ethnic autonomy to the Kurds, who constitute
20 percent of the population, and exhibit far more flexibility
vis-୶is the Cypriots. How can Ankara take itself seriously when
its armies are occupying parts of Cyprus?
Turkey’s dismal human rights record adds another dimension to an
argument for its exclusion from the EU. There should be a change in
its human rights, both at the state and grass roots levels, before
Europe even begins serious consideration of Ankara’s application.
Turkey has imposed a blockade upon a neighboring Christian sovereign
country, Armenia, while vigorously rejecting the historically
documented genocide perpetrated against Armenians. Turkey should
moderate its uncompromising support for Azerbaijan so the Nagorno
Karabagh issue can move forward towards a peaceful resolution. It
should also implement confidence-boosting measures with Armenia,
including recognizing the genocide and lifting its decade old economic
Only steps such as these will inspire confidence. Ankara must also
undertake judicial reforms within its penal code to show to the outside
world it is serious in its efforts to reform and finally become part
of the European Union.
Taleen Babayan is a senior double majoring in history and international
relations with a minor in communications and media studies.