There has been a recent article on The Times about the downsides created by the sudden influx of Polish immigrants in the aftermath of Poland’ accession into the EU. The article titled “Poles aplenty? Wait till the Turks arrive” claims Turkey is not European and similar and even worse consequences may happen should Turkey join the club. The author repeats some well known stereotypical conservative prejudices about Turkey including that it is “Islamic” and it has a huge population.
Emphasizing the fact that only 3% of its territory is in Europe, the author says that Turkey is an Asian country, and disagrees with UK’s EU policy on Turkey which is to strongly support its membership efforts. As far as geography is concerned the author is right, but it should be noted that about 20% of Turkey’s population is living in this “3% European” side. In addition, how would one explain Cyprus, an EU country that is situated south of Turkey and north of Africa, to be in the EU? Many EU citizens, including this guest author of The Times, unfortunately do not understand the basic principles of the organization by relating its very existence to mere geographical concerns.
Essentially, the argument whether Turkey can be considered in Europe or not is long time ago over: Turkey is already a member of EU’s customs union, which means that all goods can travel between the two entities without any customs restrictions. Turkey is a decision-maker member country in NATO, who, backed by the US, guarded Europe’s borders during the cold war. Apart from that, Turkey has long been taking part in all European sports bodies like UEFA etc., and in many other cultural organizations in Europe. Moreover, Turkey’s judicial system is also attached to the European court of human rights (ECHR). If an appeal made to ECHR against a court decision in Turkey is seen as legitimate and righteous, Turkey is obliged to abide whatever decision is taken and, if necessary, to change its constitution or penal code accordingly. As I said before,Turkey’s “Europeanness” has been acknowledged long time ago. There is no point to harp on the same string and argue on this subject anymore. People know where to look for a Turkey related news article on BBC, believe me, there is no need to check the Asia or Middle East sections for that!
Under all these circumstances, how correct and just it would be to call Turkey non-European, which has been already part of Europe in many means, as a secular and democratic pro-western country for ages?