Danubius International Conferences, 6th International Conference on European Integration - Realities and Perspectives

Basic Views of Political Parties, Political and Social Groups Concerning Turkish-EU Relations and their Evolution over Time

E. Ayşen Hiç Gencer
##manager.scheduler.building##: B Hall
##manager.scheduler.room##: B 12
Date: 2011-05-13 12:30 PM – 02:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-05-10


In this article the question of Turkey's EEC (later EC, last EU) relations is approached, not from a
perspective of chronological listing of events, but from the perspective of determining the changes
over time in opinions of major groups and political parties about the full membership of Turkey into
the EU both in Turkey and in the EU (EC, EEC). Development of chronological events are actually
based on these opinions. In Turkey in the earlier ten to twenty years of associate membership, centerright groups and political parties were generally in favor of developing the TurkishEEC
relations, while centerleft, as well as radical left and radical right were against it. In the 90s and 2000s, centerleft groups and political parties changed their perspective and also worked effectively for the development of Turkish EU
relations. During these earlier decades of associate membership, generally the EEC (except Greece) was more open to Turkey's full membership into the EEC (EC). However, the full membership was seen to be dependent on time due to concerns about the relative economic backwardness of Turkey. But since 90s and 2000s, as EU both enlarged and also deepened, opposition in the EU to Turkey's full membership increased, mainly due to criticism about the lack of human rights and democracy in Turkey besides economic problems. Thus, Turkey lost its priority.
Over time, the centerright groups and political parties in the EU became skeptical about Turkey's
full membership because they believe that Turkey, a Muslim country, has a different, nonEuropean mentality (religion and culture) and hence, would not fit into EU. The EU's centerleft,
as well as Greens and Liberals, however, think that as long as Turkey would meet the political and economic criteria of the EU she would be accepted as a full EU member, irrespective of her mentality. In the more recent years, however, many adverse factors have arisen both in the EU and also in Turkey against Turkey's full membership. The EU thinks that Turkey's democracy and human rights are far from satisfying the membership criteria. Her high population level is also seen as a negative economic factor. The EU is also critical of Turkey, arguing that Turkey did not take the necessary steps to solve the Cyprus issue. In addition, the newly independent Balkan and East European countries were given priority for full membership due to political considerations. Hence, Turkey's full membership lost much zeal. In Turkey, on the other hand, after full membership negotiations were started in 2005, the Turkish government slackened the political reforms to comply with full membership criteria, also the
number of chapters negotiated for full membership was reduced considerably. Moreover, many intellectuals in Turkey believe that the EU was and still is not fair and objective towards Turkey in the Cyprus issue, as well as in the PKK terror, and also in the 1915 Armenian problem. Thus, the willingness in Turkey to join the EU as a full member has decreased as well. Therefore, even though many years have passed since the 1963 Ankara Agreement, which established Turkey's associate membership open to full membership into the EEC, Turkey's full
membership into the EU today looks more difficult than ever and pushed further into the far future,
if not lost completely.