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European Parliament Votes to Suspend Talks with Turkey on E.U. Membership (Relevant for GS Prelims and Mains Paper II, Topic: Direct Question can be asked)

Decision by European Parliament:
The European Parliament voted  to suspend talks with Turkey on European Union membership.
The vote is not binding, since the decision ultimately rests with the governments of the European Union’s member countries.

Background:
Turkey first applied for membership in 1987, and formal negotiations began 11 years 
ago. But talks soon bogged down amid resistance from France and Germany, as well as vehement opposition from Cyprus, which is a member of the European Union but has been divided since Turkey invaded the north of the island (Cyprus) in 1974.

Interest of Europe:
Facing enormous pressure from migration, which had reached such levels that it was threatening to tear the bloc apart, the 28 member states agreed in March to speed up the discussions as one of several inducements to Turkey to quell the flow.

That deal also provided for the union to pay Turkey 3 billion euros, or about $3.2 billion, for refugee assistance in 2016 and 2017, with a further €3 billion in 2018. In exchange, Turkey agreed to help stop the passage of refugees across its border and to take back migrants rejected for asylum in Europe.

Turkey hosts an estimated 2.7 million refugees or other migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries.

Factors favouring the Turkey’s membership for EU:
1. GEOGRAPHY: Istanbul is a great European city that lies at the economic and cultural heart of Turkey. The country is an invaluable bridge between Europe and Asia.

2. POLITICS: The prospect of EU membership had spurred reforms that strengthened pluralistic politics and improved human rights. Turkey is a strong and loyal NATO ally.

3. ECONOMICS: The Turkish economy is prosperous. Its GDP growth average for 2014 was around 3.5% and it weathered the global financial downturn much better than most EU nations. Bringing in such a dynamo would inject new life into the EU economy, as well as adding 75 million consumers to the single market.

4. HISTORY, CULTURE, RELIGION: Reaching out to this prosperous Muslim democracy would send a clear signal that Europe is open to the Islamic world.

Factors against the Turkey’s membership for EU:
1. GEOGRAPHY: Turkey is not a European country. 97% of its territory lies in Asia. Agreeing to one non-European member would open the door for candidates from Cape Verde to Kazakhstan. Turkey is too big for the EU to absorb and  it will be the dominant member of the EU.

2. POLITICS: The 2016 coup attempt demonstrates that Turkey is not a mature European-style democracy. 
Human rights are routinely abused. Europe would import the intractable Kurdish issue. Public opinion in the EU is overwhelmingly opposed and the Turks are only lukewarm about joining.

3. ECONOMICS: Turkey’s impressive growth rate is flagging, and the country remains an underdeveloped economy. The entry of a country that poor and that big would place unbearable strains on EU finances.

4. HISTORY, CULTURE, RELIGION: Turkey’s historic and cultural roots lay in Central Asia and the Middle East. Turkey’s historical interaction with Europe has always been as an outside invader. Cyprus is an insurmountable obstacle.

 



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