English Across the Curriculum

The European Union

Positive and Negative Aspects of Turkish Membership

More than 40 years ago Turkey started cooperating with the EEC. In October 2005 the country began official talks on becoming a full member. However, in contrast to other countries that have joined the EU over the past years, Turkish membership brings along many problems.

Inside the EU many arguments can be heard against a full Turkish membership:

  • Turkey belongs to Asia not to Europe.
  • Thousands of Turkish immigrants will spread to Europe.
  • Turkey is too big and will have too much power in the EU.
  • Turkey is too poor and will cost the EU too much.

Others say that Turkey will have positive effects on the union.

  • The country will help bring together the western Christian and the Muslim world.
  • Turkey may help to make the Middle East more stable and peaceful.
  • Turkey is a member of NATO. It could give Europe more military power.
  • Europe's population is getting older an older. Young Turkish workers may help Europe's economy.
  • The EU can do business with a large market of over 70 million people.

İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul on a Friday afternoon in May
Image: Zumrasha, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Problems Blocking Turkish Membership

One of the problems that is blocking Turkey’s membership is Cyprus. The southern part of the divided island is a member of the EU and has a Greek population. The northern part is under Turkish influence.

The EU says that Turkey must recognise Cyprus as an independent country. It also must open up its harbours and airports to Cyprus.

The Kurds are another problem that Turkey has. They make up about 20% of the country’s population, but they don’t have their own country and the Turkish government has been oppressing them for decades.

The EU has stated that Turkey will not become a member unless it improves human rights. In the end, it could take many years for Turkey to become a full member of the EU , but there are many who want Turkey to stay out of the European club.

United peacekeepers in Cyprus
Image : Thaizacastilho, CC BY-SA 4.0,
via Wikimedia Commons