NEWS

Why Turkey should join EU

Turkey’s accession to the European Union may be a long and gradual process, aimed at solving today’s problems and to set, if still necessary, transitional periods for some aspects of membership. The challenge now for both the EU and Turkey is to start accession talks as soon as possible and assure progress on the basis of common European values, principles, and interests. ECONOMY: Turkey will greatly contribute to the EU’s economic power on the global scene. With a population of 69 million, a GDP level of 445 billion euros, an export oriented economy and rapidly developing information society, Turkey’s accession will increase the size and competitiveness of Europe’s internal market. GROWTH: Growth in Turkey will have a positive effect on the EU economy. Turkey’s young, dynamic and entrepreneurial population and economy are large enough to generate growth both in Turkey and an enlarged EU. Turkey is a member of the G-20. Its economy (on average) grew 6 to 7 percent a year throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997/1998 its economy broke the OECD record by growing 8.3 percent in one year. CONSUMERS: Turkey’s large economy and potential will benefit European consumers. Elimination of technical and non-technical barriers to trade and adoption by Turkey of the EU legislation and standards will increase competitiveness and product quality in an enlarged EU. BUSINESS: In addition to the existing customs union in industrial goods, liberalization of services and public procurement markets will provide European companies with invaluable opportunities. With its services sector constituting 65 percent of GDP and an over 30-billion-euro public procurement market, Turkey offers great potential for European companies in development projects. INVESTMENT: After accession, European companies will benefit from higher rates of return on their direct foreign investment in Turkey. Given the country’s qualified labor force, high absorption capacity, tourism potential and its location at the crossroads of Eurasian markets and energy networks, EU membership will boost the economy by attracting even more investment. Turkey is a country through which the oil from Iraq (Kirkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline), Azerbaijan and Kazakstan (Baku-Ceyhan pipeline) and natural gas from Turkmenistan (Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline project), Azerbaijan (Sahdeniz project) and Iran will be transported to Europe in the 21st century. GLOBAL POLITICS: Turkey’s membership will be an invaluable asset for the EU in its global aspirations. Turkey’s geographical position, relations with neighboring countries and connection to the Islamic world, Russia and Central Asia will endow the EU with a greater say in the international arena. MULTICULTURALISM: Turkey’s membership will strengthen the EU’s multicultural society, refuting the «clash of civilizations» scenario and proving the essence of the EU, namely a union built upon and through common values. STABILITY: Improvements in Greco-Turkish relations resulting from Turkey’s membership will provide further stability in the Aegean region and the Balkans. Greater stability and cooperation in the region provide potential for trade, energy, transport and environment projects. PEACE: Turkey’s membership will promote and defend common European interests. The start of accession negotiations will speed up human rights reforms in Turkey. As an EU member, Turkey can contribute further to democracy, peace and stability, as well as economic development, in the broader region. SECURITY: As a reliable NATO ally, Turkey’s membership will consolidate both the military and the civilian aspects of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. An EU including Turkey will be more efficient at tackling political problems and crises, including threats from undemocratic regimes, terrorism, illegal immigration and trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings – Turkey, with 700,000 troops, has, by far, the biggest army in Europe. (1) Murat Metin Hakki, a Turkish Cypriot, recently graduated from the University of Southampton and is carrying out LLM studies on commercial and corporate law at the London School of Economics. He contributed this comment to Kathimerini English Edition.