The given question is an actual topic for discussions in different international conferences of high rank and at the same time at the backstage of such events among the individual diplomats. It is not by chance, the process of globalization is the key for a rapid changes of geopolitical situation in various regions, that has an impact to world economy, energy policy and international security. Unfortunately, the question of the accession of Turkey into the EU, is often considered in political aspect, besides, the “Turkish question” is being discussed during the latest half-century. However it seems, the important question has to be answered first of all, do the population of Turkey want to be a member of “European family” and why?
Turkism, Islamization and Modernization
One of the author of Europeanization of Turkish people was Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the ottoman and turkish reformer, the first president of Turkish Republic in 1923. Interpretation of famous slogan of young republic «Turkism, Islamization, Modernization "can lead to profound reflections. According to the opinion of Turkish specialists, turks don`t need islamization and turkism, which they already are: «becoming Turk and be Turk are two different things» The main thing is «Modernization», which turks connect with the european standarts. They always compare Ataturk with Petr 1. Similar to the tsar Petr 1, the president Ataturk founded new capital of the country— Ankara, which was situated in the heartland in order to trench «the window to Europe», it would be easier to make it from Istanbul. Ataturk also banned turks to wear traditional Turkish fezzes by law. According to Ataturk, this headwear was “the symbol of ignorance, negligence, fanaticism and hatred of progress and civilization”. In addition, he forcibly removed the veil of Turkish women. «Custom to cover the women`s faces, — Ataturk said, — makes our nation mockery».
In general, the Turks have a special attitude toward the illiteracy and ignorance. «The ignorance is the enemy of Ataturk» – the famous Turkish scholar – Namig Kemal wrote..In his opinion, in order to develop the countries, it is necessary to develop the education of population. Many Turkish scholars support the opinion of N.Kemal. Omar Turan writes «A lot of Turkish students get their education in Europe, where they purchase new traditions and knowledge in the latest half-century. Then the students come back to the country with new and progressive ideas. Purchasing the knowledge in the European focuses of education, they try to overthrow the violence, by demonstrating all misfortunes and tragedy of our life» in the leading book of modern time “Kemalism”. It is not by chance, that coming from Turkey, the famous modern writer, Nobel laureate Orkhan Pamuk, published the controversial work "Istanbul. The city of memories", in which he wrote about Turkish massacres of Istanbul Armenians and Greeks in the middle of XX century – the national problems which are causes of Europe for the accession of Turkey into the European Union. It has to be considered, how was the talent of future nobelist developed in turkish society? Did not the society have any impact to his worldview? Exactly it was that society, which he challenged in his book.
And now turn back to the policy of Ataturk. Ataturk changed the legislations of the country to the European manner. At the Faculty of law in Ankara University, once the humorous newspaper was published, where to the question : «who is the Turkish citizen?» —was answered: «Turkish citizen — it is a person, who is married by Swedish citizen right, is condemned by italian criminal code, is judged by german procedural code, this person is managed on the base of french administrative right and is buried by the canons of Islam ».It might be considered as a joke. But the rate of economic development of Turkey during the first years of republic makes people think in optimistic way. Reforms of Ataturk let Turkey to be at the third place in the world in 30s in terms of economic development — extremely backward Ottoman empire became one of the more dynamic developing country for the short time.
Turkey in European organizations
Turkey is a participant of many various european organizations and associations, including the Organizations of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Organizations of economic cooperation and development (OECD). Turkey took a part in the plan of Marshal in 1947. In 1949 the country was accessed into the Soviet of Europe, and, finally, became the member of NATO in 1952. Turkey also cooperates with the European Union under the various programs. However, unfortunately, the membership of Turkey in the EU is still uncertain. Prime minister of Turkey Rejep Erdogan everytime warned the leaders of the EU « against the transformation of the organization into the "Christian club"», what can be the obstacle for starting negotiations about the accession of Turkey into the EU. «Or the European Union is an important player in the international arena, or it is limited by the formula of “Christian club” » – said Erdogan on October 2, 2005 in the interview of the Turkish edition of CNN». According to Turkish analysts, the European Union makes different barriers , in order to delay Turkey`s accession into the EU. The most sensitive issue for Turkey is the subject of the Kurdish population in the country. Despite the assurances from prime-minister Recep Erdogan that the Kurds will have the same rights as Turks, actually turns into another outbreak of violence. «Mustafa Kemal was a generally consistent opponent of caste, ethnic and religious hostility, believing, for example, that the genocide of the Armenians and Greeks is barbarism».
Perspectives of Turkey in the EU
At present, Turkey is a country which determines itself a foreign policy agenda. Ankara with sufficient energy resources has an active foreign policy in different directions. Turkey is also aware of that, despite its strong position in the West, Brussels and Washington do not perceive Turkey as part of Europe, but only as part of the Greater Middle East, where the process of forming a regional system of balance the power takes place. The main advantages of the country – leader – is its strategic location, the impact on the most important countries of the region, and most significantly is the establishment of friendly relations with its neighbors.
Turkey is improving relations with Greece, which causes a positive attitude of the EU toward Ankara. Experts stress the overcoming of obstacles between two states and the transition to mutual cooperation.
Turkey is trying to influence on important states and this indicates the ability to interact with all global and regional players. With the help of mediation Ankara holds with Iran the so-called "telephone diplomacy" on nuclear policy. Moreover, this work of Turkey is supported by USA and the EU.
Turkey is in a good situation and can lead the other Muslim countries for a more liberal and democratic direction. In addition, having the real perspective of becoming the member of the EU , Turkey would improve its position in the world and be able to remove the potential tension that exists between Europe and the countries of Middle East. The intervention of the European Union in the affairs of the Middle East will continue to look like Western imperialism without Turkey in its composition .
Apart from all the issues, it is necessary to emphasize the role of Turkey in diversification of energy pathways in Europe. In this regard, Turkey is interested in the dialogue with the littoral states of Caspian Sea in the delivery of energy to Europe through the Caspian Sea, Turkey and the distances – to Europe. It is an implementation of the gas pipeline "Nabucco."
The question of accession into the EU is the most important socio-political, economic and even ideological problem for Turkey. Solving this problem means to determine the future direction of development of Turkish Republic. The issue of choice is the most significant task for Turkey, the problem of self-determination. If not, the oppositional forces of pro-Western and anti-Western orientation which are directed to each other are able to divide the state ideologically .
France and Germany are the most important opponents of membership of 70 million Muslim country in Europe, which is already facing a partial Islamization. The president of France has a special position in this issue – “no matter if anyone will lead the country. Turkey can not be the member of the EU, because there is no place for Turkey”, – always said the former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing. What about the current leader of the state Nicola Sarkozy, which is lobbying the issue of recognizing the "Armenian genocide" during the time of Ottoman Empire. Among the causes to prevent Turkey's EU membership – the Kurdish issue, the unresolved Cyprus problem and human rights, which are not well in Turkey.
But even this is not the main issue. It is important, what does the Turkish intelligence think about while discussing the issue of Turkey`s cultural accessory? They use a very strong argument. What about the Turkish literature, Ziya Gokalp mentioned in his writings that the Turkish literature is based on two main directions – it is the folk and western literature. He wrote, that the sample for the first direction for us are – “Dede Korkut”, “Ashiq Kerim”, “Shah Ismail”, “Kor-oglu” and so on, but the sample of the second direction can be the works of Gomer, Virgilius and other classics.
Turkey – the sphere of influence. It is clearly stated in Ankara, that Turkey's foreign policy should not be one sided, that is cooperating closely with the West, Ankara always is aware of the East. Turkey has the resources which are necessary to conduct active foreign policy in both directions. In short, Turkey is a country which determines its foreign agenda and does not need to do it by another state, that is Washington. It should also be noted that, despite the so-called Washington's efforts to make Turkey the member of the European Union, the USA has always considered Turkey not as a part of Europe, but only as part of the Greater Middle East. USA is not interested in the functions of Turkey in Europe, there is another thing – the Middle East and other areas where Turkey could perform different tasks. Ankara does not agree with the role, which is given to it, believing that because of the changed situation in the world, Ankara is able to solve this problem but without the care and guidance of USA. Briefly, Turkey is not a member of the EU, and according to recent events it should not be expected to join the Union in the near future. On the other hand, Turkey and Russia began to cooperate more closely. And establishing a close partnership with Russia, Turkey sends to the EU a signal that, despite the artificial barriers, this country is able to interact with all the global and regional players, starting at least from its advantageous geographical position.
Geographical factor can become the last argument in conclusion of the half-century negotiations. Finally the European part of Turkey – it is a half of Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. But again, no one can predict how events will turn in the Middle East and how the West would be interested in Turkey's participation to repay unwanted effects of Arab revolutions, the end of which is invisible.
E. Oznan, Sar?kamişa Giden Yol (The Way to Sarikamish), Istanbul 2005.
N. Zeybek, Türk olmak, (To be Turk), Ankara 2002.
Z. Gökalp, Türkçülü?ün esaslar? (The basics of Turkizm), Istanbul 1988.
Kemalizm: Modern Türkiye’de siyasi düşünce (Kemalizm: Political vision in modern Turkey), Istanbul 2001.
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