22 August 2005
|The general atmosphere in the European Union (EU) suggests that the EU membership would be a kind of grant for Turkey. According to this approach, Turkey is a country too big to be digested, too different from the rest of the Europe and a poor country. The French politicians, the German conservatives, the Austrian right, the Dutch left and many other groups think that Turkey’s accession to the European Union will bring further problems for the EU and increase the EU members’ economic and political burdens. It does not leave any doubt that the coming negotiations of Turke
y on 3rd October played a role in France and Holland’s ‘no’ responses.
But is the situation really as drawn above? Does only the EU has the right to say ’no’? Will Turkey join the EU with many problems and exploit its resources? Just for a moment, let’s imagine what would happen if Turkey says ’no’ to the EU and look at the effects of this on the EU:
First of all, whether or not Turkey is an EU member, the factories will continue to close up in many EU countries, the wages to decrease and the social rights to contract in these countries such as in France and Holland. There is no other way of this picture, because Turkey was not the reason of any of these negative trends. The former EU enlargement programs also can not be considered responsible alone for these issues. The most crucial reason is globalization. As the wages and the other costs in China and the third world countries remain lower, and the USA and the Asia-Pacific region attains a better harmonization, reductions in the wages and contractions in the social rights in the EU countries will be inevitable. It is not possible to resist this process. The capital finds its way in the most appropriate conditions, and now the best investment conditions do not exist in the EU. What will solve this dilemma is again enlargement. Having become more competitive in the world with new enlargement moves, the EU has partly prevented the distribution of capital to other countries such as China with the central and East European enlargements. If the all East European countries and some Balkan states join the EU, while Turkey, the first applicant for EU accession, is left out in a peculiar way, the EU companies will prefer Turkey on a larger scale. With new members such as Poland and Hungary getting less competitive under the strict EU regulations, the flow of foreign capital into Turkey has increased in the last period. Already having the Customs Union, the same legislation except the free movement of labor and financial aid, and the infrastructure almost in the same standards with the EU, Turkey with its labor force will be able to attract big investments as a country close to the EU with its competitive costs, but having enabled to stay out of it. Many factories in the EU countries will close down and be moved to Turkey and similar countries. In this way, the capital and the job opportunities will find new places outside of the EU. Turkey draws an optimist portrait with a promising future as a country just gotten out of economic crisis and its ability to attain nearly 10 billion dollar privatization and attract foreign investment of almost the same amount show its further success.
It has been argued that Turkey’s EU membership will Islamize the Europe and the number of Turks in the EU countries, exceeding 5 millions, will be multiplied. Especially the European right has been defending this argument so strongly that it sometimes goes into racism. Yet, the reality lies in just the opposite direction. The reason of the present situation is not Turkey’s EU membership. The Van Gogh Murder in Holland and the London bombings have occurred not because of Turkey’s EU membership. The radicalism among the European Muslims does not increase because of Turkey’s EU membership. On the contrary, Turkey’s moderate attitude may act as antidote for actions like that of Al Qaeda. The extremist and pro-violence Islamists try to organize attacks also in Turkey as they know Turkey’s interpretation of Islam is different from theirs, but they could not get any support among the Turkish public. It can be said that one of the important reasons for the radicalization of Muslims in Europe is the fact that a country like Turkey is not an EU member. 150 million Muslims live in Europe including Turkey, the former USSR and the East European countries. Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Northern Cyprus Turkish Republic are European countries whose populations are very nearly all Muslims. 6 million Muslims live only in France, and this number is more than the populations of many EU countries. Moreover, the number of Muslims of Turkish origin in Germany is almost 3 millions. When the countries like England, Holland, and Belgium are also added, the population of the Muslim Diaspora in the EU countries exceeds 15 millions. Despite their populations in the size of a country, the Euro-Muslims are not given any kind of sufficient representation either in the EU or the other European institutions. Even though it is one of the first applicant countries, Muslim Turkey has not attained a full EU membership yet. Along with the racist and the religionist attitudes, the Turks have been kept outside since the 1950s. The Muslim countries other than Turkey have also been left out of the EU. None of them has been given the perspective of becoming a full member. Even the Bosnians, having experienced one of the most brutal genocides of the history, have been kept out of the EU. The Albanians are also Europeans with no hope for the EU in near future. Although it was the Turkish Cypriots who accepted the 2004 United Nations Peace Plan while the Greeks strongly rejected it, the Christian community of Cyprus, the Greeks, have got the full EU membership and the same island’s Muslim community have been kept out of the EU. Despite the awareness of the EU laws and agreements that do not allow to accept countries with border conflicts to the EU, and all the given promises and although the establishing treaties do not allow some parts of Cyprus to enter any international organization without Turkey’s, Greece’s and UK’s common permission, the EU has accepted the full membership of the other half of the island. The Turkish Cypriots have been ignored and put under heavy embargoes despite all the pledges. Hence, one more example has been added to the others, and the EU has given the impression of its discrimination against the Muslim world once more.
Maybe London bombings would still occur if the EU had taken one Muslim country as a full member, but the support for these bombings among the Muslims would have been undermined a lot. The EU would show that it was a Christian Club. It would have been proven that the religion of the EU is not only Christianity, but Islam is also considered as an EU religion. However, the defenders of the idea that the EU is a religious organization have very strong evidence under the current circumstances. Yet, the ones claiming that the EU is a supra-religious and supra-racial have very little evidence to prove their arguments. The Christian communities of Europe have many reasons to embrace the EU, while the European Muslims are forced to have the feeling of living on a foreign continent.
Leaving Turkey and the other Muslim countries out, the EU also excludes the Euro-Muslims within itself. It is clear that these over 15 million European citizens do not think that they are represented in the EU institutions with their religious and ethnic identities. The Head of the State of England, the Queen, is in the mean time the head of the Anglican Church. She is responsible for the religious appointments. The State clearly shows its Anglican characteristic in every opportunity. The situation is the same in the other EU countries. The ecclesiastic have a great influence over the political leaders and the official state institutions. The most important thing is that the Vatican strongly defends the rights of the Christians in Europe. On the contrary, the 15 million Muslims, who are also EU citizens, are totally ignored. They build their own places of worship, find their own imams and bear the formidable difficulties. Most of their homelands are not strong enough to deal with their problems, and the countries they live in even do not care about them, forcing them to come closer to the radicals. The EU members do not show the same eagerness in representation as they show in collecting the taxes. The most important key may be Turkey at this point. Considering the fact that there are many Turks living in Europe and they are the least probable ethnic group to have religious tendencies, Europe will learn many things from its experience with Turkey. It is also necessary for Europe to learn from the religion interpretation of the Turks, which has come to be known as the ‘Turkish Islam’, to apply in the relations with the Euro-Muslims. A thorough cooperation between Turkey and the EU makes cooperation easier in other fields such as the education of the clergymen and the religious institutionalization in the EU.
As it can be understood, if the aim is to prevent the religionist tendencies getting stronger, Turkey’s EU membership should be encouraged, not opposed. If this is not the case, Europe will become a field of conflict for the religious fundamentalists. The worst consequence of this will be an invitation for the Christian fundamentalists by the Islamist fundamentalists. The religionist and racist expressions have taken their places back in the political expressions of the EU. This situation is not much different from the one just before the Second World War. The ones silent in the case of Hitler in the past support the similar expressions today. The ones blaming the Jews for the economic and the political problems in the past blame the Turks and the Muslims today. Like the French political leaders, unaware of their responsibilities and putting the EU Constitution in danger, the EU politicians are playing with fire to hide their responsibilities. Going back to the religious wars will mostly damage the EU. Europe has heavily paid its dues for constructing its identity on racism and religious fundamentalism in the past. It should not face the same situation today. It is not necessary to have the same disasters instead of learning someting from the history. ‘Europe without Turkey’ will be crisis-ridden like the situation before the Second World War. Turkey may again be the only country in Europe not involving in racism, just like in the Second World War (to remind that Turkey was the only country not to give the Jews back to Hitler’s Germany in the Second World War). But who will protect the subways in London or Paris, or the streets of Berlin or Amsterdam? Who can assure that the European capitals will not face the same disasters of the Second World War?
Is it possible that the migration of the Turks to the EU countries can be prevented if Turkey’s EU membership is hindered or Turkey says ’no’ to the EU? Or will the cities like Berlin, Paris or London become Turkish cities if Turkey becomes an EU member? First of all, it should not be forgotten that over 5 million Turks in the EU members have settled there before Turkey’s becoming a member and the migration has decreased over the last 20 years. Many Turkish migrants have returned to their home countries. There is a great decrease in the number of Turkish migrants to the EU countries, although Turkey’s population has increased a lot since the 1960s. As the EU countries, which had invited the Turkish labor force during the 1960s and the 1970s, make their regulations stricter, the migration of the qualified Turkish labor force has decreased drastically, while the migration of under qualified people who had problems in their countries has increased. A great number of Turkish people living in the EU countries have decided to return to their home countries because of the racist and / or discriminative attitudes. Therefore, the EU has pushed the quality Turkish labor force to Turkey, and impeded the entering of the new unqualified labor force. On the other hand, the qualified and compatible labor force has been replaced by the inadaptable Turks with their problems related to the migration regulations of the EU countries. Despite all the measures taken, these people continue to migrate to the EU countries either with legal or illegal means. However, these entrances have nothing to do with Turkey’s EU membership. Whether or not Turkey becomes an EU member, this group of people will continue to migrate. The recent trend of decrease in the migration rate is related to Turkey’s economy rather than the EU. As Turkey’s economy shows radical growth, the migration rate decreases. If all the migration moves are taken into account, it is clearly seen that the ones from Turkey have decreased on a scale beyond the expectations. The Turkish labor force in the growing Turkish economy, which has taken its direction to the Russian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern markets, do not feel the need much to migrate to the EU countries. The right of the free movement of the labor force, which was to be given according to the EU agreements signed by Turkey and the EC/EU at the beginning of 1990s, has not been given to Turkey and this is against the EU regulations and agreements. Even if Turkey becomes an EU member, the EU hints at the fact that it will not give this right to Turkey for some more time. It is really hard to understand the reason for the EU’s countries’ fear of Turkish migration.
Turkey’s EU membership may decrease the migration to the EU, as opposed to the belief that it will increase: An important source of migration to the EU is the Middle East countries. The migration route mostly involves going through Turkey. This is still considered an EU problem although Turkey has taken the legal measures. The course of the problem will change with Turkey’s membership and the Turks will strongly abide with the EU migration acts. Furthermore, an EU member Turkish economy will absorb more migration from the mentioned countries to the EU. The number of the migrants staying in Turkey will increase; so, the Western European members of the EU will put the burden of the migration problem mostly on Turkey. The EU policies for Turkey to stop the migration from the East will, for sure, yield better results than the ones in the countries like France and Germany.
With these in mind, will an EU without Turkey gain in terms of energy if Turkey says ’no’ to the EU? Would it be more powerful in the international politics?
Turkey has become the country to carry the Caucasian oil to the Mediterranean with the recently completed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline (BTC). Moreover, preparations for connecting the Central Asian oil pipelines have started. As it will be remembered, the Iraqi oil reserves are being carried to the Mediterranean through the Turkish Yumurtalik Port. The Russian natural gas is carried to Turkey through the Black Sea and the Balkans. It is being strongly worked on the project of carrying the pipeline to the Mediterranean and the construction of the Russia-Turkey-Mediterranean Line. Likely, the Iranian natural gas pipeline is carrying natural gas to Turkey. They have been working on the project to convert this line the Iranian-Turkey-Europe pipeline. The preparations for carrying the Central Asian natural gas to Europe through Turkey have been in progress. In addition to the completed lines, the 20 % of the world’s oil will be carried through Turkey when the projects will also be completed. In other words, Turkey will become one of the world’s energy lines, not just of Europe. It is evident that such a strategic country’s exclusion from Europe does not benefit the EU at all.
NEIGHBORING TO THE MIDDLE EAST?
One other argument that the ones objecting to Turkey’s membership strongly make is their fear of becoming a neighbor with the Middle East. It is said that if Turkey becomes a member, the EU will be bordering with and become neighbors of Iran, Iraq and Syria. It is nothing more than an evidence of the EU’s ’political dwarfness’ that it hesitates to become a neighbor of the Middle East, in a picture where the USA spends billions of dollars to settle in the Middle East and builds military bases in the Gulf countries. Does the EU seek to become a global political power or a power running away from any region it considers ’hard’? If it wants to keep its ’dwarf’ position, it does not need Turkey, of course. However, if it seeks to become a political ’giant’ extending from the Balkans to the Caucasus, from the Middle East to the Central Asia, it is very hard for it to achieve this without Turkey. Even the USA is trying not to move without Turkey in these regions. In addition to Turkey’s ethnic, religious, cultural, historical and political relations with these regions and the Turkish Islam, Turkey is the greatest and the most dynamic economy of these regions, Turkey’s having the biggest military force in these regions make it impossible to exclude Turkey from the equation. One another reason for the inefficiency of the EU policies concerning the Middle East, the Central Asia and the Caucasus and its weakness compared to the USA is that the EU is not politically and militarily strong enough to settle in these regions directly. None of the EU members has such close relationships with these regions as Turkey has. EU’s effort for not to become a neighbor with the Middle East is totally meaningless, because the Middle East is already too close to the EU. The distance between Libya and Italia, Spain and Morocco is almost within swimming range. It is open to discussion whether Malta and Cyprus are European or Middle Eastern. Almost any event in the Middle East concerns the European continent. Changes in the oil prices, international migration or the Iraqi War may radically affect the domestic politics of the EU countries. Despite this, the EU’s impact on the Middle East policies is rather limited. Turkey’s accession to the EU will increase the EU impact on the Middle East. On the other hand, Turkey will become an element of increasing stability of the region when the EU approves the full membership of one of the most determining countries of the Middle East. The negative effects of the region on the EU will decrease considerably.
ARMENIAN AND GREEK CYPRUS PROBLEMS
The ones objecting to Turkey’s EU membership, especially the ones in the French domestic politics, have frequently brought up the allegations of the ‘Armenian genocide’ and the Cyprus problem. There are even some of them who argue that Turkey can not become an EU member if she does not take steps in Cyprus and the Armenian problems, and they even argue that the negotiations should not start. However, our recent experiences have proved that positive results in these problems are attained as Turkey gets closer to the EU. There has always been parallelism between the good relations of Turkey and Greece, Turkish-Armenian dialogue and the Turkey-EU relations. In this context, if Turkey’s EU membership is hindered or if Turkey says ’no’ to the EU, the solutions for the Cyprus and the Armenian problems will not work in the way supported by the French politicians. Turkey will not make that much concession as it has done till now. Even in today’s situation, Turkey is fed up with her condition of being the only part for making concessions. Turkey has reached the ultimate point of its patience on this issue. Although the Greeks and the Armenians are not the compromising sides, the only blamed part has always been Turkey. The EU politicians do not say a word to Armenia as she still occupies the 25 % of the Azerbaijani territories, while they spend hours and hours on the alleged Armenian events of the 1915, which took place almost a century ago. The ones bringing up the Ottoman Period to the present politics do not even mention the Armenian terrorism, which killed 40 Turkish diplomats during the 1970s and 1980s. Seeking for a case of genocide in the past, the anti-Turkish French politicians ignore the Khojali Genocide, which took place only about 13 years ago. Even though it is the Greeks who say ’no’ to the UN’s peace and union plans in Cyprus, it is the Turkish Cypriots who are punished. The Turkish politicians do not object to these kinds of double standardizations only for the sake of EU membership; they say ’yes’ to whatever is offered. However, it should not be forgotten that this also has a limit. It should be remembered that if Turkey’s EU membership is impeded, the improvements in the relations between Turkey and Cyprus and the Turkish-Armenian relations will also get damaged, of course on the condition that the only concern for the French politicians is the Armenians and the Greeks.
EUROPEAN RIGHT AND TURKEY’S MEMBERSHIP
It will be the European right, without a doubt, that will get the greatest damage if Turkey’s EU membership process ends. The European right, who object to Turkey’s full membership, Germany right being the strongest, will lose its control of the domestic politics if Turkey’s hopes for the EU membership fail. CDU’s Merkel, who blames the Turks for every mistake and deficiency, will have difficulty to find a new expression and scapegoat. If Merkel comes to the power, she will go beyond the present policies and the contractions in the social rights will continue and there will be no recovery of the employment problem. Because the problems are structural and they can not be solved with changes in the power in a short time. The biggest cost of an EU without Turkey to the European right will be the increase in the discriminative / racist tendencies. The parties of the European right, who cause clashes between civilizations, will put greater stress on the Christian-Muslim difference if Turkey gets out of their target field. They will reshape their politics based on the exploitation of the radicals of the Muslim diaspora. In this way, they may be able to increase their votes for some more time. However, the European Right, who spent a very long time for recovery after the Second World War, may again get the disease of racism, discrimination and fundamentalism.
In short, the opposing groups for Turkey’s EU membership may be disappointed if Turkey’s EU process ends. They may have to pay a very expensive bill, which would be beyond their expectations.
Trn. Ozge TAYLAN, JTW – ISRO
Sedat LACINER: Director, ISRO. BA (Ankara), MA (Sheffield), PhD (King’s College London)