Turkeys application for accession into the European Union has been a contentious issue among EU members in the face of enlargement thrust of the EU. There have been strong arguments for and against Turkeys accession, as reflected from the early positions taken by the different blocs of EU countries. Given the EU voting requirement for the approval of every member state and EU Parliament before enlargement takes place, every member states position becomes all the more important.
Arguments For and Against Turkeys Accession
As of June 2006, Turkey had already completed the first section, the science and research phase generally regarded as the easiest, of its accession negotiations with member states of the European Union. 1However, Turkey remains to hurdle many policy issues that have been raised against her, including:
Other factors considered in Turkeys accession bid are its predominantly Muslim population; geography wherein only 3 percent of its land actually lies in Europe, with its capital lying in Asia; large size and its dynamic but unstable state of economy that could either be a boon or force EU to support, and its large population that could bestow upon it a large political (voting) power in the EU Parliament.3
Portugal, which has been an (European Community) member since 1986, believes in the core principles of EU enlargement that were established during the first enlargement stage as based on the wording of point 13 of the December 1969 communique of The Hague European Council stating that negotiations can only begin in so far as the applicant States accept the Treaties and their political aims, the decisions taken since the entry into force of the Treaties and the options adopted in the sphere of development.
In essence, it points to accession as, among others, the 1) joining into an existing community, and not forming a new one, 2) fully accepting the acquis communautaire or the entire body of regulations in the EU community at the time of accession and 3) limited transitional periods characterized by largely respecting the text and principles of the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe upon which the EU Community is founded. 4
Observance of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights have always formed part of the customary enlargement regulation of EU. Unless Turkey exhibits commitment and consistency in adhering to the principles of international human rights and freedom of expression and religion during the entire accession process, then she would be an anomalous misfit in the EU community.
Additionally, if the government of Turkey cannot recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which is a new EU member, then her possible membership would form another violation of the tradition and principle of acquis communautaire. While Turkey has indeed shown support for Europe on matters of defense and security by being a member of the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the post-Soviet era, she still needs to comply with all of the important criteria for EU membership.
Portugal maintains that she does not question the accession bid of Turkey based on geography, because the measure of being European is not limited to territory and given the fact that Cyprus itself is not inside the traditional border of the European continent, nor on its religion because Turkey has indeed been a largely secular state. 5
Portugal, believing in Turkeys European perspective and her potential contributions to EU6, conditionally supports the membership of Turkey based on observance of existing customary regulations and principles of the community of European Union. During the accession process, EU should ensure the effective compliance of the political criteria 7by continuing to push for the Ankara Protocol as well as actively monitoring the reinvigoration of democratic policy reforms by Turkey.
1 Sarayli, Murat. Negotiation Process During Turkeys Journey Into EU. Retrieved 11 February 2007 from
2 European Parliament. (27 September 2006) EP: non-legislative resolution. Retrieved 11 February from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=5347852.
3Accession of Turkey to the European Union. (2007, February 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:45, February 12, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/ index.php?title=Accession_of_Turkey_to_the_European_Union&oldid=107314993.
4 Kochenov, Dimitry. (April 14, 2005). EU Enlargement Law: History and Recent Developments: Treaty Costum Concubinage? Retrieved from 11 Feb. 2007 from http://eiop.or.at/eiop/texte/2005-006.htm#2.1.1.
5 Rie, Philippie. How will the EU change, with Turkeys accession ?. Nov. 2004. Retrieved 11 Feb. 2007 from http://www.kkc.or.jp/english/activities/brussels/6th.html.
6 President Papadopoulos says Cyprus problem an EU-Turkey issue. AHC News. Retrieved 11 February 2007 from http://www.americanhellenic.org/News-article-362.html.
7 European Parliament says EU must reform before enlarging further. (18 Dec. 2006). Retrieved 11 Feb. 2007 from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/search/