Turkey’s EU Bid Requires Patience on Both Sides

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I have a piece up this morning on World Politics Review that advises both Europe and Turkey to exercise patience in their accession negotiations.
From the article:

Ankara is currently enjoying a moment of self-satisfaction. Its economy has fared well in recent years, and it maintains friendly relations with nearly all of its feuding neighbors. Turkey’s potential as an energy hub, its role as a diplomatic interlocutor between its neighbors and the West, and President Barack Obama’s high-profile visit in April have further highlighted Turkey’s emergence as a significant regional power.
But these positive developments have led to an inflated sense of confidence in Ankara. Turkey lives in a dangerous neighborhood in which it has no natural allies. And the deep mistrust between the government and the military, as well as the fact that Turkey’s economy contracted 13.8 percent in the first quarter, reveal that both Turkey’s political and economic systems rest on shaky foundations. In 10 or 20 years, those foundations are likely to be much sturdier should Turkey remain committed to the accession process. And Ankara is likely to find itself in a stronger international position if it enjoys the security and stability that Europe provides.
Things may look different from Europe’s perspective in a decade or two as well. Europe’s population is declining, and economic growth among the developed, Western European states is likely to be low. Turkey will be in a position to provide the labor that Europe needs, while serving as a destination for investment and an engine for economic growth.
But the benefits that Turkey offers Europe go beyond economics. Turkey’s army — the second-largest in NATO — could play an increasingly significant role as the United States gradually pulls back from its overseas security commitments, at the same time that European governments struggle to modernize their militaries while providing for aging populations. Incorporating a Muslim country may also help Europe to integrate its large and growing Muslim minority.
Most importantly, Europe will have to engage with Turkey as a large, influential country on its borders whether or not it becomes part of Europe. The accession process offers Europe the opportunity to ensure that its southern neighbor is as stable, prosperous, and friendly as possible.
So the challenge for Ankara, Brussels and European capitals is to get Turkey to a place where it is prepared to join the Union, even if continuing the accession negotiations until Turkey is actually ready is a difficult diplomatic and political dance.

You can read the entire article here.
— Ben Katcher

Comments

11 comments on “Turkey’s EU Bid Requires Patience on Both Sides

  1. Facebook Developer says:

    The release last week of a European Commission report highly critical of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s progress in their efforts against corruption serves as a useful reminder that both Brussels and Ankara should exercise patience while negotiating Turkey’s European Union bid. The Bulgarian and Romanian cases demonstrate that both Europe and its potential members are best served by an exhaustive, deliberate accession process.

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  2. Outraged American says:

    Why does NATO still exist? And when IS the US going to “gradually
    pullback from its overseas security commitments”?
    Whenever we lose an enemy like the USSR, we create another one,
    like Islam so that the military / industrial complex, and now the
    terrorism/ industrial complex can benefit, while the rest of us
    suckers’ lives tank.
    USrael helped the PA train fighters in camps near Jericho. “Divide
    and conquer” the motto of all colonialists everywhere.

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  3. Dirk says:

    Just as TS noted, it grates on the nerves of all EU member people that the US or anybody would dare suggest who should be a member of their club. I tend to favor admission but immediately recoil when I hear anyone from the US offer their opinion on a topic that is not of their concern.
    As for Turkey’s more religious elected government, it is analogous to the PA and Hamas duality. Erdogan only became Prime Minister after the secular governments proved too corrupt and ineffective. Then Gul became President and it is their reforms and the stability that they present that have made Turkey a much more attractive potential member for the EU. The onus is on the secular people to take Erdogan’s example and form non corrupt and effective political parties.
    Of course Hamas which the Israelis immediately demonized never had the opportunity to differentiate themselves from the more corrupt PA. And, those PA members that looked to be effective successors, like Marwan Barghouti, were also railroaded on bogus charges.

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  4. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    For the internationalists,it is yet a surprising fact to understand that the core representative of today’s Europe(the EU)could have not still endorsed the US’s solicited doctrine of supporting Turkey’s entry into the European Union.
    An important member of Nato and being also a significant member of the Euro-med, Turkey has been facing a constant European resistance to its bid for the European membership.

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  5. WigWag says:

    “Turkey’s army — the second-largest in NATO — could play an increasingly significant role as the United States gradually pulls back from its overseas security commitments, at the same time that European governments struggle to modernize their militaries while providing for aging populations. Incorporating a Muslim country may also help Europe to integrate its large and growing Muslim minority.”
    The thing the Turkish Army is most likely to do is overthrow the elected government in Turkey. There have been three violent coups by the Turkish Army in the past 50 years (1960, 1971 and 1980) and one non-violent “semi-coup” (1997).
    The army views itself as the guarantor of Attaturk’s secular state and has nothing but complete disdain for Erdogan and Gul.
    Ironically, despite the popularity of Erdogan and Gul and their religious allies which has been demonstrated in several recent elections, the army remains the most popular institution in Turkey.
    Until the army and the civilian government start playing from the same playbook, it’s hard to fathom how Turkey can be successfully integrated into Europe or how its army can be expected to play a particularly helpful role.

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    “But the benefits that Turkey offers Europe go beyond economics.
    Turkey’s army — the second-largest in NATO — could play an
    increasingly significant role as the United States gradually pulls
    back from its overseas security commitments…”
    Why do my ears interpret this more like future benefits potentially
    offered by an enlarged Europe to the American Empire?

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  7. ... says:

    i agree with TS..

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  8. TS says:

    Or to put it a little more bluntly, Ben: The US has many things to be proud of, but its relationship with its southern neighbors isn’t one of them. Looking 30 years into a future, I expect to see a fairly prosperous eastern and southern Europe within the EU, hopefully including Turkey. But in 30 years, there will probably still be a very sharp division along the Rio Grande in the Americas, and the US will still give a flying fart about its southern neighbors.
    So, instead of advising Europe about its relationship with its neighbors, your time might be more productively spent advising the US about how to work with its neighbors. (Or maybe not, given its intransigence.) Maybe propose adding some more institutions like a Right Courts or elected representatives to NAFTA or the OAS, and more economic and political integration? (Cue vision of US rightwinger’s heads exploding over “sovereignty” issues.)
    And now I apologize for my directness. But high-minded think-tank advice from the US about how the EU should work with its neighbors does not help. Wrong messenger.

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  9. MNPundit says:

    The next time Europe’s population wants more outside labor (Algerias, Turks, Libyans, hell even Eastern Europeans) will be the first.

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  10. TS says:

    I actually agree with much of your article, and think admitting Turkey might be good for both Turkey and the EU long term.
    But here is the rub, from a (formerly) European perspective: I do not believe it is smart for the US, whether government or think tank, to make too much noise about this issue. It is not your decision. This is between Turkey and the EU, and any pressure (or think-tank “advice”) from the US is more likely to backfire than achieve anything.
    I think it would also backfire if Europe started pushing the US to, say, admit various Latin American countries to Nafta, or as a US state. (In fact, right-wingers in the US would go ape-shit over any European suggestion about this.) So, you are not achieving anything by bringing up this issue here — in the best case.

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  11. JohnH says:

    Not since the accession of Britain has the EU faced a challenge like Turkey. The EU has not been in the practice of really negotiating with future members, which have typically consisted of small markets where the benefits of membership accrued disproportionately to joining country. The EU was largely doing them a favor by granting accession, since each individual market’s potential was marginal from the EU standpoint.
    No so Turkey. Turkey offers the EU the prospect of a relatively large market, a solid manufacturing base, low cost labor, and energy corridors. Like Britain, benefits of accession promise be mutual.
    But is the EU really prepared to negotiate with Turkey, or simply treat them as a poor cousin that is being granted a favor?
    If the EU cannot bring itself to conduct serious negotiations, Turkey has other options–markets in other countries of the region that also have no natural allies, such as Russia, Iran, and the ethnically Turkic populations spread throughout Central Asia.
    More than patience may be needed. A change of attitude will probably be necessary, not only in Brussels but also in key Turk-phobic countries.

    Reply

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