The aim of this study is to understand the fatiguing relationship between Turkey and European Union which has been lasting for four decades and to come to perceive whether Turkey is a proper candidate or not when examined carefully. There are some debates over Turkish society and its approach to European Union which reinforces Turkey to change in terms of social structures such as policy and economy. This study is also to be prepared in order to explain what has a big impact on Europe’s viewpoint about Turkey and Turkishness.
Moreover, some Turks’ opposition to European Union is added to the study. When doing this study, it has been read several sources and articles by well-known Turkish authors and teachers as well as foreign researchers who keep an eye on Turkey and EU relations. In light of that study, Turkey and EU relations might be told in another words and be understood that some historical and cultural effects can determine what society thinks.
Keywords: Turkey and European Union, Turkish society, Turkish army, Turks’ migration.
A Brief History of EU and Turkey Turkey and European Union relations so far have been studied and searched by several academicians, students as well as politicians since it has a bizarre history that continues between the collocutors but does not come to an end at all. The fact that Turkey and European Union relations are tense and vague make this subject more intriguing. I would like to start to write my essay by giving some crucial details about how and when Turkey and European Union relations began before going into the deep details such as the reasons why EU does not want Turkey to participate or why Turkish citizens oppose to EU relations. EU and Turkey started to negotiate in the early 1960’s, approximately when Greece had applied for full membership. Turkey had a good image in the World’s eyes since it participated in NATO and assisted the peace whole heartedly by supporting USA and accordingly USA’s allies at the Korean War which occurred between 1950 and 1953. Turkey was naturally supposed to be a part of European Union as it proved itself with NATO. However, Turkey was very unlucky in terms of timing. By the time Turkey applied for a full membership, the military intervention erupted and the negotiations were postponed until September 12, 1963. Moreover, at that time EC became under Gaullist pressure which was not very good for Turkey at all. Turkey’s European identity and such issues had been questioned by several EU countries, but especially by France that did not seem to intend to accept Turkey as a part of Europe. Eventually, the Ankara Association Agreement was signed between Turkey and EU so that they could start the negotiations despite of all negative and unfortunate events that undermined the EU and Turkey relations. The agreement became effective in 1964. On this agreement, there were three stages for Turkey and EU relations called preparatory, transitional and final stages. The first one called preparatory stage was a period which was intended to provide financial aid to Turkey so that it could take proper measures in order to develop its economy and prepare itself for the transitional stage. The transitional stage was a process that Turkey had to involve in a customs union between 12 and 22 years that might bring the full membership to Turkey. It never happened, though. Turkey assumed that those stages were guarantees for full membership and never wanted to be left behind Greece. Yet, Greece participated in European Union before Turkey as known. At the 70’s and 80’s, the case for Turkey was not brilliant. In these decades, in Turkey lots of problems emerged that could be listed as political, economical and social. Those problems which were derived from different sources did not help Turkey improve its relations with European Union. Nor could Turkey expect European Union to tolerate this issue. First of all, the Cyprus crisis, that was between Turkey and Greece for Cyprus Island’s Greek and Turkish citizens, gave a big harm to EU and Turkey relations. Meanwhile, a new military junta took place at the heart of policy in Turkey. Although Turkey tried to heal this case by taking various precautions, European Union urgently deactivated the process until the 1980’s.
In the 1980’s, Turkish economy as well as policy had some major changes. In the economy, a new era started which can be associated with liberalization. Then Prime Minister Turgut Özal, was much more enthusiastic about European Union and had a tendency to improve democracy and the economy of Turkey in order to meet the EU’s high expectations. After all the vital breakthroughs that Turkey worked on, Turkey’s insistency for the full membership of EU was indispensible. European Union hesitated for a long while which lasted for 30 months and in the end, instead of full membership, Turkey was offered to complete customs union framework before having a full membership status. European Union came up with some crucial reasons about why they were unable to accept Turkey then. At that time, Berlin Wall coincided with the EU Commission’s decision. The Cold War seemed to disappear slowly and Turkey was worried about its special status as a strategic partner of the West against Soviet Union inasmuch it was an essential reason about why EU might need Turkey as a good ally. Speaking of the facts, Turkey was lingered for years by European Union by used custom union. Both sides were aware of that but none spoke out about that. European Union could neither accept Turkey nor turn its back to this country for some obvious reasons. Unstable relationship among them made Turkey think about it and it led Turkey to Central Asia.