Turkey and the EU – Continuing the Debate
Anne Bostanci’s response to my You Tube piece on Turkey’s possible accession to the EU makes many interesting and salient comments. I agree with much of what she says, and I think it’s brilliant that the Politics@Surrey blog can serve to generate debate between us as a scholarly community.
In particular, I think Anne is right to say that the ‘perils’ of immigration form Turkey -and indeed elsewhere – can be exaggerated. It’s also true that the benefits of such migration, both to the economy and to society, are often over-looked. But my point was not that migration is a bad thing, because I agree that it isn’t; instead, I continue to think that its likely increase after a Turkish accession is politically sensitive in countries like Germany, and that this is one of the reasons why Turkish accession remains a controversial prospect.
It’s also very interesting to note Anne’s comment about the decline in enthusiasm for EU membership in Turkey. I have also picked up on this, and I think it’s worrying – for both sides. If Turkey seeks instead to position itself as a regional power, then I think Ankara would be falling victim to temptation and frustration rather than clear-headed analysis of its long-term interests. Such a decision would also deprive the EU of a vibrant, fascinating partner state which would, upon entry, help the EU build bridges to the Islamic world – so much of which is on the EU’s borders! Pique at being overlooked when Romania and Bulgaria joined despite clearly falling short of the Copenhagen Criteria is understandable; like many of us in mid-life crises, the EU developed an inexplicable fondness for bad R&B. However, Turkey should not let this dictate its position vis-à-vis EU entry; playing a more active role in solving the Cyprus problem, and doing more to improve its guarantee of human and minority rights on its territory, would make Turkey’s case for membership unanswerable, as whatever other steps were then considered necessary to implement the acquis fully could be treated as they were in 2007, i.e. allowed to join anyway. In the long run, this could be to Turkey’s advantage.