Over a long time, the evolution of public opinion support for EU membership in Turkey has been growing at a very high rate. In essence, this can be well understood in the light of the conceptual tools that have over time been developed for European polities. When the conceptual tools are mentioned in this case are meant to bring about the meaning of theoretical approaches that have been employed in order to explain the European polities. In line with this, such conceptual tools involve things like neo-functionalism concept which was developed in EU politics (Ruiz-Jime'nez & Torreblanca, 2007). This concept was developed with the sole aim of bringing out the point that merger of economic activity such like coal and steel would result to economic integration which eventually would lead to political integration.
In the same line of thought, supranational institutions would in turn accelerate the process in actuality making the interests as well as loyalties to shift from national to supranational. Another concept is bargaining between national sovereign governments. In addition, there is the concept of institutionalization which emphasizes on making use of institutions to shape or determine the preferences of the governments (Bomberg, Peterson & Stubb 2008). Again in this context, policy networks and constructivism are other concepts among others that can be used to explain the EU politics in a deeper and an understandable manner.
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The evolution of public opinion support for EU membership in Turkey in this context is based on these conceptual tools. Seemingly, public opinion support for EU membership in Turkey has been deteriorating over time. It is within the founding concepts of EU that the transnational politics are encouraged while In Turkey this is not the case. There are several public opinions in support or against. In both cases however, there are reasons given in favor or against. As such, this has led to the evolution of public opinion for support for EU membership in Turkey. Fundamentally, EU places a greater value on the respect of human rights, democracy, liberty, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law which are common among the member states (Ruiz-Jime'nez & Torreblanca, 2007). As it has been previously highlighted, there are several reasons that lead to one supporting the accession of Turkey to EU membership or opposing it.
As a matter of fact, some of the opponents of Turkey accession to EU membership have claimed that Turkey is not in a position to meet the requirements of the EU owing to its cultural identity and the fact that it is feared that immigration would increase. Islam has in this case been pointed out as to disrespect human rights as a conceptual tool that EU is founded. Similarly, some have portrayed EU as a Christian based union of which its values are completely incompatible with Islamic values (Bomberg, Peterson & Stubb, 2008). Likewise, there have been those that support the accession of Turkey to EU membership owing to the fact that Turkey belongs to Europe due to its geographical location. In addition, others support it as they suppose that it would help in rejuvenating an aging population of EU.
Similarly, others support it as they presume that Turkey accession to EU membership would improve security in the area. It has also been pointed out that wealth and economic resources are not evenly distributed in this country and in any case its economy is not an issue for its being opposed to join EU as a member country or state. So to articulate, the main reason is based on its cultural identity which deprives human rights and justice. It also interferes with human rights, democracy, liberty, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law which are common among the member states (Ruiz-Jime'nez & Torreblanca, 2007).
The Turkish nation has experienced different challenges that vary completely from what was experienced by other nations as they sought to join the European Union. To begin with, apart from facing challenges from European Union member countries, its endeavors to be part of the EU have attracted concerns from the international community. To begin with, the religious status of Turkey remained as an issue of concern, not only to the member states but also to the international community across the globe. It is remarkable to note that Turkey is a fully fledged Muslim state with a strong Muslim influence (Laçine, Özcan, & Bal, 2005). This is unlike other European Union members whose religious influence was aligned towards some element of Christianity. In this regard therefore, other nations that have joined the EU or have intentions of doing so were judged based on totally different issues rather than religion.
It is also worthy noting that the Turkish state was yet to accomplish every piece of details concerning its political, economic and social structures according to the Copenhagen political criteria. It can be argued that Turkey remains among the few nations that had intentions of joining the European Union that had attained important revolutionary milestones in its political, economic and social structures (Arvanitopoulos, 2009). In this regard, Turkey had managed to separate the military and politics, and implemented measures that could boost its economic status by a substantial margin. Yet, one cannot ignore the fact that there were issues that were considered as some of the prerequisites before a nation could be allowed to join the EU that was yet to be attained. Among these is the fact that Turkey still experienced challenges with freedom of expression and torture within its boundaries. Without appropriate measures in place, this could lead to violation of human rights, a factor that was seriously against the rules and regulations of the European Union.
The issue of historical revisionism also plays a critical role in the integration of Turkey into the European Union. Unlike other nations that have already joined the Europeans or are in the process of doing so, the Turkish nation has been required to acknowledge certain issues that were considered as past history to Turkey before it could be accepted as a member of the European Union (Laçine, Özcan, & Bal, 2005). Among these historical issues is the fact that the European Union wants Turkey to ascend to the fact that it was directly involved in the Armenian genocide that occurred in 1915. This was the first genocide of the 20th century whereby more that 2 million Armenians were massacred in Turkey by the Turks or forcefully deported from Turkey leaving behind their property and their social lives (Lake, 2005).Whereas it has been argued that this was genocide, the Turkish government does accept that there were deaths of the Armenians but reject the fact that this was genocide as it did not occur on the precept of government support against the Armenians.
This experience by Turkey is different from that of other nations that are members of the European Union or have underway plans to join the European Union in the sense that most of these nations have experienced real genocide in their history as recent as the 1970s, 80s and 90s, yet have found it easy to join the European Union or are finding the process of joining the EU lenient on them. Among these nations is the Soviet Union that disintegrated into Russia and many other nations across Europe. Other nations include East and West Germany that brought down the Berlin wall and joined to become one nation, i.e. Germany. Some of these nations had the worst forms of mass killings that would remain in the minds of many people for a long period of time (Arvanitopoulos, 2009). For instance, there are a lot of Jews that were annihilated during the reign of Nazi Germany, yet this nation has not been asked to make restitutions for its atrocities.
More to this is the fact that the European Union has been wary of the fact that an integration of Turkey into the European Union would increase the number of Turkish immigrants into Europe. Whereas integration of other nations into this Union increased the possibility of immigrants from one nation to the other, the EU and its members were categorically concerned about the Turkish immigrants, with these members seemingly coming to a consensus that this integration would increase the number of immigrants into their borders (Lake, 2005). This mostly emanated from the fact that most Turks were of Muslim origin whereas other European members were of Christian background.
Whereas Turkey has had totally different experiences from comparable EU candidates and member countries, it has also had experiences that are similar to the expectations and empirical observations in Europe. To begin with, Turkey has been working on integrating into the global markets as a way of achieving a status that would enable it to fit into the European Union or rather community. For instance, there has been incredible increase in the Turkish exports in the European markets. On the other hand, Turkey has continually opened up its market to the outside world especially from the European Union member countries. According to O'Reilly & Benson (2009), Turkey has become a lifestyle tourist destination especially for Europeans (p.138). In line with this, many Europeans perceive Turkey as one of the most important holiday destinations in this particular region.
On the other hand, the cultural values of Turkey have also been affected by the process of Europeanization (O'Reilly & Benson, 2009, p.138). In line with this, the Turkish society has realized the need to accept certain values that are fully accepted in the European Union community as the standards for living in any particular society. With this in mind, some of these values have found their way into politics, economic and social structures of Turkey. Unlike most of the Islamic states across Asia and some parts of Africa, Turkey has begun to embrace democracy in its political circles due to influence from the European Union.
This is similar to the experience that other nations have gone through either in the process of integrating into the European Union or as member states of the European Union. Additionally, it is important to note that the social structures of this nation are presently more aligned towards observance of human right and preserving the freedom of expression just as it is stipulated in the policies of the European Union. In other words, the European Union has affected Turkey just as it has affected other member countries (O'Reilly & Benson, 2009).
From the above given information, evolution of public opinion support for EU membership in Turkey in light of the conceptual tools developed for European polities has been attributed to the cultural identity of Turkey. Remarkably, as compared to the other member states of EU, Turkish experience has been quiet different due to its being an entirely Muslim country. Principally, in order to qualify as a member state of EU, respect for human rights, democracy, liberty, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law which are common among the member states must be adhered to. On the contrary, Turkey as a Muslim only meets a few and as a result there has been an evolution of public opinion support for EU membership in Turkey. Although Turkish experience has had a lot differences compared to other member states, it has also had experiences that are similar to the expectations and empirical observations in Europe. As stipulated earlier on, Turkey’s integration to the global Market and EU has been a great step towards its accession to EU membership among others.
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