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  • Turkey and the European Union: Prospects for a Difficult Encounter
  • C. Edward Dillery (bio)
Esra LaGroKnud Erik Jorgensen, Editors: Turkey and the European Union: Prospects for a Difficult Encounter. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 232 pages. ISBN 1-4039-9511-7. $74.95.

This book is one in the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics series. The volume contains essays on several issues related to Turkish accession to the EU, written by experts in political and cultural science and economics. As indicated by the subtitle, the editors and authors recognize that the accession process will be long and difficult.

The central assertion in the book is that “Turkey needs Europe, [and] Europe needs Turkey for politico-cultural transformation.” Levent Kirval writes in chapter 11 that the EU needs Turkey to complete its “hybrid supranational identity” and to demonstrate that democratic cultures can work in harmony despite cultural differences. Kirval also holds that having Turkey as a member will “add colour to the already colourful European picture.” Other contributors note that having Turkey as a member will significantly improve the EU’s ability to work with the countries of the Middle East, both in the cultural and economic spheres. The argument is that if Turkey were not to have a satisfactory role in the EU, it would be forced to look eastward, thus becoming part of the problem of European – Middle Eastern relations rather than part of the solution. As for Turkey, membership in the EU would help complete the process of democratization and would enable the country to maintain and strengthen its policy of secularization. It also would promote economic development and enhance the lives of its citizens. [End Page 128]

On the positive side, the editors report that much progress already has been made toward accession despite various domestic developments since Turkey first applied for membership in the European Economic Communities in 1959. In their introduction to the book, LaGro and Jorgensen analyze the tangled history of negotiations of several Turkish requests for EU membership, offers of a customs union or other “association” type relationship, and finally, agreement to negotiate for full membership under the terms of a thirty-five-chapter acquis in 2005. Even after that date, problems have arisen with a decision by the EU to suspend negotiations on eight of chapters—but the negotiations do continue.

Obviously, the negotiations will be complex and will take many years. Several contributors to the volume estimate that it will take from twenty to twenty-five years to complete the process and that the final product will be a draft agreement of eighty thousand to 100,000 pages. The acquis addresses almost every aspect of government activity, from agriculture to financial policy and from law enforcement to human rights. In this regard, the negotiations with Turkey are expected to be much more complicated and lengthy than were those for the recent accession of several Eastern European countries. The authors note several types of issues that will arise in the negotiations. The first is that in acquis negotiations the EU is the stronger party. Turkey will face demands to change many aspects of its cultural, economic, and political behavior, because it must bring its practices into line with EU standards, not the other way around. With Turkish public support for accession weakening, this could seriously impede progress toward membership.

Another immediate problem is that at least three important members of the EU—France, Germany, and Austria—are opposed to full Turkish membership, preferring some kind of association agreement. German chancellor Angela Merkel has proposed such an arrangement. Most of the scholars, both in Turkey and the EU, believe that Turkey will not accept such a status. Another associated issue is the 2004 declaration of the European Neighborhood Policy. This is an outgrowth of the Euro-Mediterranean Process (sometimes called the Barcelona Process). It consists of a formalized method for relations between EU members and nonmembers on EU borders and includes cooperation on economic issues with a whole range of countries outside the EU. Most authorities believe that Turkey would not join this group in lieu of full membership.

Many experts in Turkey and the EU point out that...


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pp. 128-131
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Archived 2019
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