Journal of International Relations, European, Economic and Social Studies
Apart from Cyprus, however, there are several other challenges that Turkey has to address. These include additional reforms for a modern legal framework, economic transformation, the Kurdish issue, claims in the Aegean, religious rights, dealing with the Armenian genocide, the alleged ‘re-islamization’ of the state under the Erdogan government, the role of the army, women’s rights, media freedom, and, more generally, respect for basic freedoms. All these issues entail elements for which several EU countries, such as France, Austria, The Netherlands, Germany, Greece and Cyprus have particular sensitivities. Furthermore, a major characteristic of Turkey is the high degree of statism and nationalism which contradict the European value system. It should also be noted that the Turkish establishment internally promotes the consolidation of one identity and pursues an assimilationist approach – an approach which appears to make several ethnic and religious minorities feel suffocated. Yet Ankara tends to encourage Turkish speaking people residing outside Turkey to maintain their Turkishness even at the expense of not integrating into the society of the country in which they live. This has been causing serious problems across several societies. Thus, Cyprus is not the only country where the Turkish demands - if implemented - would lead to a deeply segregated society. This attitude and practice recently prompted, for example, Chancellor Merkel to state that the integrationalist multi-cultural model has not worked in Germany. Euro-Turkish relations constitute a major issue in both European and international affairs. No doubt further democratization and modernization of Turkey would contribute to the enhancement of stability, security, and cooperation in the wider region. Up to the present day, however, Turkey does not seem to be willing to comply fully with the prerequisites of becoming a full member of the EU. Similarly, it is doubtful whether the EU can eventually absorb Turkey without changing direction, purpose and philosophy. This is the major reason underlying the stance of Merkel’s Germany and Sarkozy’s France for a special relationship between the EU and Turkey. At the same time, if the policies of Turkey are examined in depth and in detail, it remains unclear whether this country is fully committed to adopting the value system of the EU. Turkey on the European doorstep
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...