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Why the Brits should calm down about Turkey’s possible EU membership

Turkey is not going to join the European Union any time soon; then what is this noise about Turkey acceding into the EU and Turkish people coming into the United Kingdom?  And so what if Turks come to the United Kingdom, there are already more than 100,000 people of Turkey live in the UK. Plus why would Turks want to come to the UK; the sun is not shining in the grey and wet UK and the Turkish economy growing better than the UK’s. Yes it is right to say that significant section of people in Turkey look up to the European culture and life style, but the rest of the Turkish population see EU as a threat to their Islamic traditions and conservatism.

Furthermore, Turkey is backsliding on democracy and drifting towards authoritarianism, so how can it meet the EU conditionality to join the EU. Having countries like Hungary and Poland in the EU as member states, which have been bluntly veering further and further towards illiberal democracies and the EU’s migration deal with Turkey– when there are critical questions about democracy, rule of law and the free press about this country– it becomes genuine worry for the Leave and Remain camps whether the EU may bend its principles as it has been doing so with Hungary, and admit Turkey into the EU regardless. Brussels must stand up to the EU’s principles if it wants maintain the EU’s credibility and unity.

The UK state policy seemed to have been to favor Turkey’s membership of the EU club since the late 1980s. There is a common agreement in the academia that the underlying reason for the UK state’s policy on Turkey’s EU membership is the UK’s fear of the EU’s deepening policies and move towards a federal club with supranational institutions. Admitting countries like Turkey, with a population of 74 million and with its endemic domestic problems and weaknesses, into the EU, the UK government believed they could to hinder and problematise Brussels’s aspirations for an ever-closer union. Since Prime Minister David Cameron have been promised by the heads of the 27 members states that the UK would able to opt out from the ever closer union clause of the EU, provided the country votes to Remain today, I believe the UK would change its attitudes towards not only on the admission of Turkey, but also on further enlargements of the EU. The British voters should not worry about further enlargements of the EU or should not vote on the basis of the EU’s possible further enlargements, because change is on the way.

That said Prime Minister David Cameron was right to say that Turkey is unlikely to join the EU until year 3000.  He was right in the sense that Turkey’s relations with the EU have been slow progressing. Neither the development of Turkey–EU relations (1959-2005) nor Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU (2005-2016) have been uninterruptedly smooth. Turkey’s first application for the Associative Membership of the EU was made in 1959, however the Turkish army’s coups of 1960, 1971 and 19 80 meant that the EU had to put on hold on all the political dialogue with Turkish authorities during these periods. Thus the EU did not sign the Customs Union with Turkey until 1995. The economic crisis of mid-1970s, inconsistent coalition governments, and the government’s handling of the Kurdish issue meant that democracy never became the only game in the town and civil liberties were barely protected in Turkey. Thus Turkey’s application for full membership was partly refused in 1989.

Furthermore to date, eleven years on Turkey began accession negotiations with the European Union on 3 October 2005, and there has not been noticeable progress in the accession process. Only fourteen negotiation Chapters had been opened to negotiations; one of these (Science and Research) was provisionally closed; and Chapter 22 (Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments) was only officially opened in November 2013. At the same time eight Chapters have been blocked by the EU Council decision over Turkey’s non-implementation of the Additional Ankara protocol since December 2006; five Chapters blocked by France since June 2007; and six Chapters were blocked by Cyprus since December 2009.

This proves the point that Turkey-EU relations have been a fluctuating one, resulting in a slow progressing relationship. Plus at the moment the future of Turkey-EU relations looks bleak than ever as Turkey slides to authoritarianism and illiberal democracy. Thus the British voters should not worry about Turkey now. The British voters should pay attention to what the benefits of the EU have been for the Europe: ‘Peace to the Western Europe’ and ‘Democracy to the Eastern Europe’.  And the EU should hold tight on to its principles, if the EU looses its credibility, it is very likely that there would be further alike referendums that could risk not only the peace and stability in Europe, but also could speed up the disintegration of the EU. This is pertinent in the light of the electoral success of the far-right political parties and rise of Euroscepticism and illiberal democracy across Europe.  I suggest the British voters should listen to arguments coming from sane voices from the remain camp clearly outlining the benefits of the preserving status of the UK within the EU rather than listening to Nigel Farage’s xenophobic comments on Turkey and immigration.


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