European Integration and the Turkish Dilemma
Even though the Commission’s 2010 Progress Report on Turkey refers to positive steps taken - such as the improvement of fundamental rights, the furthering of judicial reform and the lifting of restrictions on broadcasting in languages other than Turkish, it also raises concerns about Turkey’s difficulties in guaranteeing basic freedoms. Clearly, Turkey must introduce further reforms in order to protect freedom of the press, speech, and religion. It must also protect women’s and minority rights,protect conscientious objectors from imprisonment, and reduce the role of the army, among other safeguards. At the same time, it must implement the EU-Turkey Association Agreement’s Additional Protocol in full (thus including the Republic of Cyprus). Moreover, it has to withdraw its occupation troops from the northern part of Cyprus and respect the independence and territorial integrity of this island-state. This would also facilitate the solution of the Cyprus question. Indeed, if we take into consideration the recent demonstrations of Turkish Cypriots against Turkey there is no doubt that if Ankara ends its occupation the Cyprus question would be soon resolved. Within this overall framework it may be essential to raise the question about the possible options of the EU in relation to Turkey. By the same token it will be equally useful to assess the options of Turkey in relation to the EU. Undoubtedly, the recent assertiveness of Turkey in its relations with Israel and its objectives in the broader Middle East influence these issues.
Concluding Remarks Euro-Turkish relations constitute a vital challenge as well as an issue of international interest. The strengthening of the EU and its further integration are major EU aspirations. At the same time, however, further modernization and democratization of Turkey also remain fundamental objectives. An important aim would be to accommodate all these objectives. Turkey’s European path, to the degree to which the country remains committed to such a path, necessitates the fulfilment of serious obligations. There are major internal reforms that need to be made. Adopting, and above all implementing, new legislation is essential. The country should also effectively seek to address its relations with other states in a conclusive manner. Turkey has so far expected other countries to adjust to its own demands without 78
Published on Feb 16, 2012
A Publication based on the International Conference organised at the European Parliament/Brussels by Dr. ELENI THEOCHAROUS, Member of the Eu...