Turkey’s bid for EU membership has been considered as one of the most controversial and problematic bids that the EU has ever encountered. A lot of research has been done about what the EU thinks about this country’s accession into the union but not much information has been gathered concerning Turkey’s opinion on the same.
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It will be imperative to know what the most influential forces in Turkey think about EU integration so as to determine whether or not the accession process is likely to remain a priority to the Turkish people in the future. In this paper, it will be argued that irrespective of attitudinal factors, there is still support for EU membership amongst the Turks.
Purpose of the research/ research questions
The purpose of this research is to examine Turkish society’s attitude towards the EU. It will be illustrated through the positions taken by key groups in the country (these include the government which consists of opposition and leading parties, business groups, the general public and labour unions). The following research questions will be useful in achieving the purpose of this research:
- What is the Turkish attitude toward EU membership?
- What arguments are given in favour of these attitudes and which major threats to the Turkey EU membership have been identified?
- Is this attitude aligned more towards the international or the internal?
- How have Turkish people interpreted EU citizen’s attitudes such as President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel’s attitude towards their entry?
- What other prospects for international membership have been considered and do the Turks prefer attachment to the East (Middle East) or Europe?
- Who influences these opinions amongst the Turkish population?
- What is the Turkish government’s opinion on EU membership and how influential is this opinion? (the leading party’s opinion i.e. the AKP and the opposition party’s opinion i.e. CHP will be differentiated)
- What opinion do key business groups hold especially TUSIAD and MUSIAD?
- What opinion do major labour unions such as DISK, Hak-is and Turk-is hold?
Significance of study
By assessing Turkish opinion about ascension to the European Union, it will be possible to know how realistic these prospects are. Furthermore, the research will give a glimpse of how integration can take place if Turkey gets admitted into the EU. The findings from this paper will also illustrate how much progress has been achieved and what needs to be achieved in order to meet this goal of entrance into the EU.
The findings will have implications for the people of Turkey who will be affected by membership in the Union. It will also inform external stakeholders such as EU citizens, EU leaders as well as alternative international membership forums especially in the Middle East. Each group will know whether they are regarded favourably by the Turks and this will determine some of their future social and economic outcomes.
Arikan (111) looks at the other side of the coin i.e. the opinion of the EU concerning Turkey. He explains some of the criticisms that have been expressed by the European Union concerning Turkey. The EU acknowledges that a lot has been achieved in terms of democracy in Turkey but its political climate still falls short of European standards.
The country places limits on political associations as illustrated by the Welfare Party’s ban and restrictions of its members’ freedoms to participate in politics for five years. The Turkish government has a tendency to create a centralised political identity rather than a democratised plural state.
Several restrictions on NGO activities have been imposed in this country and have therefore illustrated how participatory democracy is yet to be achieved within the state. Constitutional reforms have been implemented quite slowly so this implies that the country is yet to meet those standards (Arikan, 112).
Furthermore, the military plays an excessively large role in the Turkish political system and this is unacceptable by European standards. The Turkish political climate has been marked by a series of military interventions in the 60s, 70s and 80s with the army asserting that they are custodians of civil liberties in Turkey.
Another major problem cited by the EU against Turkey is their failure to respect human rights. Use of excessive force by security forces is common in the country. Journalists, trade unionists and other groups have been arrested for their opinions concerning key constitutional issues and people have also disappeared from the country.
This has demonstrated that the EU still feels that Turkey does not deserve EU membership. Given such an opinion, it would be crucial to look at the other end of the spectrum and determine whether the same negative opinion is held by Turks.
Arat (3) carried out a research concerning liberal democracy in Turkey. He especially focused on the Welfare party or Islamist Refah party and its female membership. He found that this party had a high representation of females who utilised their personal connections to mobilise other women. Through the views of these women, it was possible to see how liberalist political thought can exist in an Islamic secular society.
It showed that there will always be tensions between the liberalist school and Islam but the two can still co exist. In order to understand the opinions of the Turks concerning European integration, it is necessary to learn about the political and social dynamics that operate in this nation.
However, this book looked that those intersections in terms of gender, religion and politics. This report will dwell on the same topics but with a focus on the EU accession. It will attempt to show how opinions on EU ascension intertwine with politics, religious and gender identities amongst the Turkish people.
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Onar (272) explains the three major political forces that operate within the Turkish political scene and these include: the Kemalists, the liberalists and the Islamists. This analysis looks at a very important background against which one can assess political decisions within this country. The author explains that Islamists believe that Turkey is more ‘Eastern’ than European and that its identity should revolve around the Islamic faith.
This group therefore nurses fears about excessive westernisation. The welfare party is known to be the most predominant Islamic party in the country. The second group consists of the liberals. While no single political entity claims to be predominantly liberal, a number of civic groups belong to this category. The latter believe in a laissez faire approach to social-economic discourses in the nation.
In other words, they advocate for the freedom of religious practise throughout the country. The third category of political forces consists of Kemalists. This group consists of all those people who believe in the secularisation of Turkey. They assert that anything Islamic is backward. In fact, they have advocated for the removal of religious teachings and dress in any public institutions.
They also stress the importance of the state over and above the needs of the individuals. These three groups have been in some sort of triangle; in other words, they are rarely in agreement. Information from this journal article focuses on the political climate without giving too much emphasis on how the groups affect Turkish opinion on EU accession. This gap will be sealed in the following section of the report.
Aybar et.al (329) carried out a research in order to assess Turkish perceptions towards the EU. The study was administered through questionnaires and was more focused on the numbers rather than the reasons behind these sentiments. This report will attempt to fill that gap by explaining the reasons behind Turkish attitudes.
Focus in this particular research will not be quantitative as was the case with the Aybar et.al (329) study. A qualitative assessment of the reasons behind these attitudes will be examined in order to offer an in depth understanding of the Turkish people concerning EU application and accession.
Turkish attitude toward EU membership
Arguments given in favour of these attitudes and major threats identified
The overall majority of Turkish people support the country’s entrance into the EU. A research carried out in 2003 by Carkoglu (188) illustrated that about eighty percent of the participants in the research supported EU membership. This was an overwhelming majority and individuals who took part in the study represented the country’s diverse population.
However, recent figures indicate that this support has been dwindling; nonetheless, the majority still support it. In fact, polls show that a thirty percent drop in support of EU membership has been recorded in this country thus showing that there maybe other dynamics at play that may be responsible for this waning support.
Westernisation is one of the major arguments in favour of EU membership (Onis, 365). The Turkish elite have often considered westernisation as a major goal from as far back as the Ottoman Empire.
This is largely because the term is associated with greater standards of civilization, modernity, greater economic performance and democracy. Consequently, joining the EU would contribute towards achievement of this goal. The political elite therefore think of the EU as a platform for transforming their identity.
Supporters of European integration in Turkey also cite economic performance as an important driver in their lives (Onis, 367), (Anderson, 18). Many Turks have been frustrated by the poor economic conditions in their country and believe that there are better job prospects in other parts of Europe than in their country.
This is further rationalised by the existence of millions of Turkish immigrants in some EU member countries like Germany. Records illustrate that about two million Turks live in Germany. Citizens presume that if Turkey was to become part of the EU which allows free movement of people within the Union then they would use their blood ties in those nations to look for better jobs there.
However, jobs are not the only economic reason cited by these members. Big business owners believe that EU membership will provide them with a more diverse capital market and this will propel their businesses greatly. Medium sized business owners believe that the EU is the solution to the serious macro economic problems in Turkey.
They believe that ascensions will guarantee them low interest rates and greater economic policies for investment. Large business owners also believe that they will benefit from better macro economics in the region because the latter is likely to be much more stable than the conditions in their own country.
The Turkish population also believes that EU integration will lead to greater democracy in the country. Some worry about Islamist tendencies and its ability to ruin the AKP. They believe that the European Union will contribute towards greater democracy in the country because their standards are set so high. These sentiments have been expressed by professionals and members of the middle classes (Anderson, 20).
A number of political safeguards have also been cited as lucrative reasons for EU membership. Some citizens believe that EU membership will prevent the return of military rule. For the military, the EU will also serve their long term dream of making Turkey westernised. This is something that many citizens aspire to and believe will be the solution to their numerous challenges.
Others are highly frustrated by the prevalence of corruption in public institutions and believe that the EU will allow them to solve these problems. The poor administration of public services also causes many Turkish citizens to support EU membership because they believe that these challenges will be addressed thoroughly when in power (Carkoglu, 189)
Although certain political entities believe that westernisation is an important goal to be achieved through membership in the EU, others argue that this would threaten their national identity (Kosebalaban, 134). The latter scholar explains that there is a clash between modernist tendencies and traditional forces.
These opponents to European integration state that westernisation and modernisation are not necessarily synonymous. In other words, they believe that that thinking was informed by leaders in the Ottomon Empire who thought of the west as the only civilising force. However, these inclinations have changed dramatically and a number of people are starting to oppose those notions.
One such group is the Kemalist establishment. This group has great nationalist tendencies that oppose Western association but still believe in modernisation as a goal to be aspired. These sentiments come from the fact that Islamic cultural forces played an important role in fighting off western forces so they were regarded as an entity to be opposed rather than embraced (Kosebalaban, 143).
Waning support of EU membership stems from a series of factors. First of all, Turkey is suffering from accession fatigue. Despite carrying out several economic and social reforms, prospects for Turkey’s integration are still not looking good. This negotiation process has taken far too long and a number of people have grown tired of waiting for EU membership.
The other reason is that members of the public have been discouraged by the numbers. Even if Turkey was to meet all the criteria laid out by the EU, the country would still not be guaranteed of membership. There are already EU citizens and leaders that oppose Turkey accession into the EU so this is a serious obstacle to their success. The Turks know about this opposition and this has also undermined their support for integration.
Whether this attitude is aligned more towards the international or the internal
This attitude is still more international than national. Many Turks have been frustrated by the myriad of challenges in their own country and are looking for alternatives solutions.
Nationalist sentiments are growing but there is an indication that these sentiments can coexist with international standards especially those of the EU. A number of objections have been raised concerning the dangers of these policies but the positive results from economic, civic and social reforms have illustrated that an international orientation would serve the country well.
National interests have been debated on especially concerning the talk of an identity issue in Turkey. Citizens believe that national interests should be protected even as they aspire to achieve international goals and requirements.
How Turkish people interpreted EU citizen’s attitudes such as President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel’s attitude towards their entry
The EU debate concerning Turkey’s prospects for accession normally centred around two elements and these include the civil environment and the cultural environment. Some entities believe that Turkey should not be allowed into the European Union because of its predominantly Islamic heritage.
They affirm that it is at odds with the EU culture. Two crucial people advocating for rejection of Turkey’s bid were President Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
What was even worse was that people in France seemed to demonstrate intolerance against Muslim immigrants as France’s capital was characterised by a series of protests. Eventually, this created a hard line stance on the part of the French President who together with the Chancellor of Germany out rightly rejected Turkish membership into the EU.
These moves minimised the desire to gain EU membership in Turkey. Even the AKP was at odds with these sentiments because they knew that their prospects for EU membership would be undermined by these powerful EU member states. Support for EU membership is still higher than opposition to EU membership but these numbers reduced after the French stance on EU and Turkey.
The French parliament had accused Turkey of failing to deal with the question of missing Armenians in their country and they had even criminalised this issue. Eventually, that decision led to immense opposition of the French in Turkey and even a boycott of their products. The tensions increased anti EU sentiments in Turkey (Onar, 284).
Other people who heard about Turkey’s cultural misalignment with the EU have interpreted this in the reverse. Some traditionalists affirm that European integration for Turkey will threaten their cultural identity. A study carried out by Aybar et.al (330) found that fifty eight percent of the percent felt that Turkish culture would either be eroded or dominated by western cultures from the EU region if Turkey entered the EU.
The President of France at that time – Jacques Chirac – argued that Turkey was not culturally similar to other members of the EU. Consequently, it can be said that the people of Turkey were affected negatively by these assertions made by EU leaders.
Other prospects for international membership that have been considered and whether the Turks prefer attachment to the East (Middle East) or Europe
(Meral, 60) explains that Turkey can sometimes be seen as a mediator in Middle Eastern foreign relations. In other words, this country thinks of itself as a go-between in Israeli and Palestinian conflicts. Also, the US has often perceived it as a stabilising force in the EU. However, the people of Turkey are well aware of the fact that they require support from western nations.
If they get too involved in the Middle Eastern region then chances are that they will isolate themselves from the rest of the world. If the EU accession issue stalls and eventually fails then chances are that Turkeys will consider forging relationships with Russia. In fact, indications already illustrate those prospects especially because of the immense number of visits that Russia has had in turkey.
Trade between the two countries has increased dramatically and it is likely that this relationship may grow even more if Turkey’s accession bid flops. Turkey has had certain ties with unconventional Muslim nations such as Syria, Sudan and Iran. Continued trade ties with Iran have undermined western and US backed sanctions imposed against it. This has severely affected the relationship between Turkey and the US.
On the other hand, Turkey’s association with most Middle Eastern countries is founded on the belief that the rise would boost their economic prospects. Furthermore, Turkey wanted to establish itself as a mediator between the troubled Middle Eastern nation and the west.
Sometimes, this mediating role has compromised relations between the latter country and the west. It is likely that if the EU process fails then Turkey will continue to work with its Middle Eastern counterparts. Nonetheless, this will be done cautiously so that the country does not isolate crucial western allies in the process. All in all, one can assert that Turkey’s attitude towards the Middle East is a mixed one.
The country has started turning to the Middle East especially going by its continued support for Iran and controversial group Hamas. Turkey is starting to look as if it has embraced a dark side. The EU would lose a very important country in the continent if it blocks Turkey’s membership into the EU because Turkey is moving towards immensely controversial foreign policy (Meral, 59).
Entities that influence these opinions amongst the Turkish population
Carkoglu (184) carried a research to assess Turkish support towards EU membership. It was found that party inclinations were an important influential force in determining one’s position. If one belonged to a political party that supported European integration then EU support was greater. Political forces are therefore an important influence in determining support for EU integration.
Religion also played an important role; if a certain citizen believed in extreme sentiments then chances are that the person would not support European integration. This means that Islam was an important shaper of the opinions that most people held.
Age is yet another important factor in determining how people decide to vote. Older citizens were in greater support of EU membership than young ones. It was found that this group has a pro-European mentality that may have been created by the social forces in their lives. This is something that younger people may not have been exposed to. Information sources (or the lack of them) also considerably influence EU support.
The issue of nationalism has not just been advocated by Kemalists who believe in the strength of the nation state; it has also been a pressing issue for the government through the leading party. In 2005 it was found that the government had passed certain sections of the constitution which punished people for their antinationalist sentiments; this was called the famous 301 code.
The EU felt that the 301 contravened human rights and freedoms and other democratic principles. However, the government affirmed that it passed this law because it wanted to preserve national identity.
This was illustrative of the fact that nationalist sentiments sometimes placed the government in a tricky spot because it wants to meet EU obligations but must also avoid stirring nationalist uproars. In this regard, one can assert that nationalists play a role in shaping attitudes towards the EU as seen through their opposition of certain EU policies (Onar, 284).
Certain populations are simply not well informed about the EU process and its importance. Furthermore, the political elite have access and ability to control information flow so they can manipulate information in order to cause it to fall in their favour. However, most of the decisions made are independent.
In other words, the Turkish people’s support for EU membership arose out of economic reasons. Most would disregard their political and religious affiliations in support of accession because of economic conditions.
Turkish government’s opinion on EU membership and how influential this opinion is (The leading party’s opinion i.e. the AKP and the opposition party’s opinion i.e. CHP need to be differentiated)
The AKP thinks of European Integration as an important part of their political agenda. They believe that if Turkey was to become a member state of the EU then the hegemonic problem existent in the party would be immediately addressed. This positive attitude has been expressed by a series of changes initiated by the AKP in response to EU directives. First, the party has reduced the military role in the National Security Council.
The EU had stated that there was too much use of force by security forces. Consequently, AKP decided to close the State Security Courts. The party also abolished the death penalty and released Kurdish parliamentarians who had been jailed. All these changes illustrated that the AKP is committed towards the goal of European integration and perceives it as an important solution to the problems in the country in general (Anderson, 22).
However because AKP is still a political entity, it has been forced to dance to the tune of its electorate in certain circumstances. For example, when Turkey was struggling with the issue of allowance of the veil in public spaces, AKP took up a stance which may not have been supported by their EU but also one that could not be condemned. In this controversy, a university student had to discontinue her education because of the veil ban.
The courts ruled against her thus implying that the courts were endorsing secularisation of Turkey. This sparked a lot of uproar among Islamists who affirmed that Turkey was loosing its cultural identity to European universal values (Onar, 279).
The AKP through the Prime Minster asserted that this court decision was ill informed and that religious considerations had not been made. In this regard, AKP was showing that although it supports the EU, it still holds certain reservations stemming from the tensions that exist in the country. Another illustration of these tensions was seen when the AKP allowed the 301 code to pass.
This was clearly a piece of legislation that undermined human rights as stipulated by EU and other international standards. The party therefore showed that given excessive pressure from nationalists, the party can contravene EU regulations in order to preserve this.
The party predominantly supports EU membership but may sometimes alter this inclination when strong opposition emanates from opposing groups. There is a complex interplay of factors surrounding AKP’s position.
The leading opposition party called the republican People’s Party or CHP has also affected the EU-Turkey position taken by members of this country. The Party endorses EU membership albeit with preconditions. It believes that EU integration would be good for the country only if this does not compromise national interests. It has criticised the manner in which the EU has negotiated with Turkey concerning possible membership.
It believes there is an uneven playing field that will cost the country. It also voices complaints against the AKP. It believes that the AKP has openly adopted EU recommendations without safeguarding national interests. It also affirms that there may be some kind of Islamisation agenda that the leading party is advocating for so this is a complicated issue for people concerned (Gulemz 423).
In order to really understand CHP’s position on EU membership, one must know the difference between the different kinds of Euro-scepticism that exist in Turkey. Euro sceptics are people who oppose EU integration. However, these groups may either be soft or hard sceptics. Hard sceptics believe that the economic and political integration of Turkey into the EU will bring more harm than good so they reject it entirely.
On the other hand, soft Euro sceptics believe that EU integration would be good for Turkey but they oppose a certain component of the integration process such as a policy requirement of the integration process. Soft Euro sceptics believe that national interests should be put before anything else although they still endorse European integration. Throughout the European Union, Euro-sceptics have often emanated from the opposition.
They usually do this in order to have leverage over the prevailing government. It can be said that the CHP have adopted a soft Euro-sceptic stance on the EU. As stated earlier, the CHP has objections against the Islamic agenda pursued by the AKP. It accused the AKP of using EU integration as a cover up to introduce new policies which are not even related to the EU agenda.
For example, the AKP asserted that they would lift a headscarf ban from universities if the EU favoured it. The CHP was very critical of these sentiments. It also criticised the addition of new mosques in rental buildings by claiming that the leading party was using integration as a cover for their personal agenda (Gulmez, 427).
The CHP has also criticised some of the documents that have been dispensed by the EU. For instance the EU progress report contained certain aspects that had never been brought up before. For instance, the report stated that negotiations concerning Turkey’s bid could be suspended if a majority vote supported it. Also, the negotiations on the same would only start if a unanimous vote existed.
Consequently, the CHP is stating that Turkey’s prospects for accession have been minimised because of these assertions. The report has also talked about limiting labour movement for Turkish citizens. The CHP believes that this would be tantamount to less-than full membership. This party believes that AKP are too eager to become members of the EU, that they are willing to do anything in order to gain membership.
Opposition believes that the government has not paid special attention to certain components of the EU policy. This is detrimental to Turkey’s bid for accession and is also harmful to national interests.
For instance when the EU described the kind of people who would be recognised as minorities if Turkey joined the Union, the CHP claimed that such a requirement would place almost all people in the country under the minority umbrella and this contravened Turkey’s Lausanne treaty agreements.
The CHP has also spoken against the possibility of losing EU membership even after meeting the Copenhagen criteria since provisions have been given for rejection of Turkey. The party affirms that this contravenes the union’s own principles. One can therefore say that the CHP party is exploiting the leading party in order to gain political mileage.
The opposition claims that all these issues have not been addressed by the leading party AKP and this puts Turkey at jeopardy. On the other hand, it can also be said that the CHP considers accession as the end goal but it is sceptical about many elements of EU policy (Gulmez, 429).
Opinions that key business groups hold especially TUSIAD and MUSAID
As one of the leading business entities in Turkey, TUSIAD firmly endorses EU citizenship. This can be seen by the number of documents released in order to achieve these objectives. TUSIAD has many press releases in the public domain that talk about its support for the EU. It argues that membership in the EU will ensure that the economic and political arena are conducive for business.
This is the reason why it has cooperated with other European business entities such as the Union of Industrial and Employer’s Confederation of Europe. It did this in order to improve relations between the EU and Turkey. Most support for EU membership revolves around the economic realm.
TUSIAD believes that the EU will provide a better platform for Trade by Turkey and since it represents the private sector then it is imperative that it supports an initiative that will contribute towards a stronger economic climate. The organisation has frequently taken on a proactive stance to Turkey-EU relations. It has stated its opinions against political occurrences that appear to undermine EU accession issues.
In this regard, TUSIAD has warned against statements made by Turkish political leaders concerning a very controversial issue which was Cyprus. Nonetheless, this organisation has not blindly advocated for EU friendly policies as it often voices complaints against these policies as well.
For instance, it criticised the EU stance on Cyprus claiming that the EU had ignored many historical factors which resulted in an unbalanced and ambiguous situation in that Island. Consequently, one can say that TUSIAD is at the forefront of political reform and support of EU integration but has also given constructive criticism of this Union when it has overstepped its boundaries (TUSIAD, 2).
MUSIAD on the other hand focuses on small business owners. It has not been as proactive as its counterpart TUSIAD has been in the political landscape. It has not given express statements about its attitude towards EU membership however one can deduce its stance by some of its leaders’ assertions.
For example when the coordinator of the sector council was asked about his opinion on concentration of MUSIAD’s efforts on Muslim nations, it asserted that Muslim nations have greater export promise and potential than western nations.
This inclination towards Muslim nations illustrates that the organisation is more interested in an Eastern orientation rather than a western one. Therefore, EU integration is not a very important part of its agenda (Business news Europe, 6).
Opinions that major labour unions such as DISK, Hak-is and Turk-is hold
Trade Unions that have taken a political stance concerning the EU matter include Turk-Is which stands for the confederation of Turkish Trade unions, DISK which stands for the confederation of revolutionary trade unions and Hak-is which stands for confederation of Turkish real trade unions. Aksin and Uzgoren (7) explain that there is an inflation of trade unions in Turkey.
In this regard, one sector can have numerous trade unions with diverse interests. This implies that since the trade unions cannot speak with one voice then their influence is tremendously weakened. Turk-Is is by far the most influential trade union. It has established a reputation of a supra party affiliation although it has been accused of befriending the US and betraying the common interests of the masses.
It has been perceived as very close to the state. The other union is DISK which has a socialist agenda. It has also been aggressive in terms of military and power politics hence the reason why it was banned for eight years. Hak-Is was established at roughly the same time that DISK was established but this one was perceived as being more oriented towards religious tradition.
It is difficult to classify Turk–Is’ stance on the EU because it has been rather mixed. First, Turk-Is believes that Turkey would greatly benefit from the new conditions that will emanate from membership. However, the union has also stated that it has its doubts about Turkey’s prospects for membership. It has raised a lot of concerns about EU policy on Turkey’s negotiation process and believes that the process is unfair.
The EU has placed too many obstacles for Turkey and this may greatly undermine their ability to reach those levels that they desire. Turk-Is believes that Turkey has been held at ransom by EU regulations on labour even though the country is not certain about membership. For example, the Customs Union was a requirement imposed by the EU before Turkey could consider joining it.
Turk-Is criticised the implementation of this policy by affirming that Turkey had exposed itself to decreased unionisation rates, fewer availability of jobs, a worse economy and greater social risks. The Union therefore felt that Turkey had been short changed and had compromised some of its national interests. Turk-Is has also disagreed with the EU concerning a number of sensitive issues that the EU decided on.
One such problem was the concept of Cyprus. Turk-is believed that the EU was wrong about its decision about the Island. It also opposed the EU’s decision on minority rights and the Armenian question (Aksin and Uzgoren, 8).
This trade union has issues against the adoption of foreign policies that compromise national interests in order to meet EU’s stringent requirement. The trade union believes that the greatest concerns should be given to the country’s internal problems rather than other external matters.
Hak-Is on the other hand is religiously oriented and has been advocating for the well being and safety of Muslim employers and the need to instate certain components of mutual justice borrowed from Islamic principles. This union strongly believed that Turkey should take on a more Eastern than Western orientation.
Surprisingly, though, this trade union believes that EU membership would be good for Turkey because it would facilitate the growth of democracy and civil rights within the nation. It has even indicated its support through certain projects that work towards EU suggested reforms.
Nonetheless, the Union’s leader has been quick to point out that Turkey should not accept all proposed changes at any cost because this would be detrimental to its prospects in the future.
DISK also supports EU membership. Its leaders have affirmed that Turkey needs to have an international orientation if it intends on competing in the global platform and one way of doing that is joining the EU. The trade union asserts that the EU would create a greater democracy in Turkey and hence pave the way for better economic prosperity so it is definitely in support of membership (Aksin and Uzgoren, 8).
From a thorough analysis of EU membership issues in Turkey, it has been found that the Turkish public still supports EU accession even though the numbers have drastically reduced in the past one decade. Reasons identified for support include greater democratic space and less military involvement in politics, greater civil rights, better economic prospects and heightened modernisation.
However, a reasonable proportion of the Turkish population object to EU membership citing internal objection to Turkish membership by prominent members such as France and Germany. Others are fatigued by excessive waiting, other believe that the EU has exerted double standards upon this Turkish nations.
Certain groups cite cultural and national sentiments as reasons why Turkey should not join the EU. Therefore, the general public has mixed feelings about EU integration.
Other stakeholders also hold varied opinions about EU integration. The leading party AKP supports EU membership and has initiated several reforms in order to meet this goal. However, the AKP has acted controversially in some respects concerning certain issues that the EU advised them against. The opposition party CHP has also endorsed membership albeit with some scepticism.
They believe that national interests should not be compromised in order to meet this EU objective. Similarly, major trade unions like Turk –Is and business entities such as TUSAID have also expressed similar sentiments claiming that Turkey should not lose its identity in order to appease the EU. Generally, these stakeholders still support EU membership but are cautious about certain components of EU’s approach.
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