As the European Union seemingly crumbles under the weight of the economic crisis that is engulfing country after country, questions have arisen, does Turkey NEED the EU? Or does the EU NEED Turkey?
Turkey’s stock is rising, the country is on the rise; posting better than ever financial results and growing as one of the fasted nations in the world. The previous goal of Recep Tayyip Erdogan to orchestrate Turkey’s entry into the European Union when the Prime Minister first came to power in 2002 now seems in some quarters, as unnecessary and most importantly – not wanted by the Turks.
Erol Yarar, founder of a business group of 20,000 companies in Turkey, said: “Prime Minister Erdogan wanted to be the first conservative Muslim leader who would bring Turkey to the West, but after Europe betrayed him, he abandoned those ambitions. Today, the EU has absolutely no influence over Turkey, and most Turks are asking themselves, ‘Why should we be part of such a mess?’” Experts say that with the continuing trouble in Europe, Turkey will look more to the Arab world for opportunities; the recent Arab Spring has created an opportunity for Turkey to become a regional power – leaving the European Union negotiations once and for all.
Public opinion in Turkey shows that the Turks are not too fond on the idea of joining the European Union either. In 2004 a poll showed that 73 percent of the Turkish public saw joining the EU as a good thing for Turkey, recent polls in 2010 show that only 38 percent of the Turkish public now wish to become a member of the European Union.
Should Turkey join the EU, it won’t be until at least 2014. With Cyprus set to gain presidency of the European Union in 2012, Turkey is set to put all negotiations on hold whilst Cyprus has a turn with the presidency of the European Union. However Turkey’s minister for European Union affairs, Egemen Bagis said that Turkey remained committed to joining the EU. Bagis said: “Hold on Europe, Turkey is coming to the rescue.” And that’s that – Turkey could now be the one nation that Europe NEEDS to rescue its faltering economy. Bagis said that with the young work force in Turkey and the recent growth in the nation, Turkey could now be a huge asset to the EU – should Turkey want to be.
When negotiations first began all those years ago, Europe has been dithering over Turkey’s membership ever since, and negotiations have hit a stand still. This could come back to hurt the union more than they had anticipated previously. With the Arab Spring starting to look ever more prosperous for Turkey, it seems that Europe could live to regret the long negotiation period with Turkey over membership. The power of Turkey is rising, seems as though Europe missed the boat with the potential in Turkey.