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Unformatted text preview: The Geopolitics of Turkey’s Accession to the European Union 1 Saul B. Cohen In his paper on Turkey’s accession to the European Union, Carl Dahlman (2004) presents a cogent rebuttal to the argument that Turkey is basically a Middle Eastern Muslim nation, whose values are incompatible with those of “Christian Europe,” and whose inclusion would require changing the “idea” of Europe, possibly spelling its end. That argument echoes Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” theory, which draws a fault line between the Europe of Western Christianity, and the Orthodox Christianity and Islamic civilizations to its east (Huntington, 1993). Professor Dahlman posits that geographical Europe is hardly a culturally homogeneous society and civilization, divided as it is by profound linguistic, religious, and national cultures and traditions. He points out that Turkey’s European orientation goes back to the Ottoman period, and has been the centerpiece of Turkish nationalism since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk set the course for a modernized, secular republic over 70 years ago. The article traces Ankara’s tortuous path towards accession, which has been facilitated by the recent recommendation of the European Commission in October 2004 that the European Council approve the start of accession negotiations. The Council’s recommendation was based upon Turkey’s progress in implementing human rights, economic and political reforms, addressing the rights and needs of the Kurdish minority, and showing flexibility on Cyprus. Another factor influencing the Council’s action is that the moderately conservative Muslim AK Party (Justice and Development Party), elected in 2002, has respected the secular nature of the state, as well as providing stability. I might add that there is no way of judging how much the threat of a takeover by the secular military elite affects the AKP’s current political behavior. EURASIAN GEOGRAPHY AND ECONOMICS Dahlman takes note of the current European backlash against immigration, especially of Muslims, reflecting concern for job competition and sensitivity to European cultural mores.2 To this one should add the widespread anti-immigrant sentiments that al Qaeda terrorism has evoked as a result of the recent train bombings in Spain, and murder of a prominent Dutch filmmaker by a suspected Muslim fanatic. In Germany, the lingering memory of violence and terrorism fomented by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which used Germany’s large Kurdish population as its base for extending activities to other parts of Europe, may also contribute to this backlash. Much of the opposition to Turkey’s accession has been fanned by the specter of Europe’s being overwhelmed by a wave of Muslims, who, with membership, would be 1 EURASIAN GEOGRAPHY AND ECONOMICS, VOL. 45 (8): 575‐582. able to immigrate freely throughout the Union. The current Muslim population within the EU numbers from 15 to 20 million, including four million Turks, with heaviest...
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course GEO 262 at Rutgers.
- Spring '11