Should Turkey be part of Europe?
Turkey has formally applied to join the European Union on April 14th, 1987. It seems that the current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the one who is working really hard for Turkey’s accession to the European Union. Naturally, what really matters is not Turkey’s willingness to join the EU, but the will of the European people to accept Turks as equals among equals. And this decision cannot be dictated by the president of Europe’s overseas partners. But, before Europeans decide about what should be done with this issue, it is more than necessary for each European to consider a number of things.
There are a number of requirements that every nation has to fulfill in order to become a member of the EU. First of all, it has to be democratic nation. Kenan Evren who was the 7th president of the Turkish republic and the leader of the coup d’état that overthrew the elected government of Turkey 1980. General Evren was the one how actually established the National Security Council as a ruling body of the country. Since then the NSC is affecting all the important decisions that may affect the future of the country. Members of this council are the Chief of General Staff, the four main Commanders of the Turkish Armed Forces and selected members of the Council of Ministers, and is chaired by the President of the Republic. Clearly, every leader may consult the Generals when a country is in war with any other nation or with some dark force. The transition from the military junta to democracy was very smooth (!), as Evren became president and Turgut Özal became Prime Minister after winning the election of 1983. That is, in 1980 the Generals overthrew the elected government and Özal become Prime minister after winning the election in 1983, while at the same time Evren became president of Turkey. Practically, this means that the generals never stood a trial for what they have done and instead they have been praised for their doings. So can this country be regarded as democratic?
Another requirement for each country willing to become a member of the EU is the respect of religious freedom. Turkey is a self-proclaimed secular democracy that assures complete freedom of worship to non-Muslims while at the same time it does not recognizes that the Ecumenical Patriarch (i.e., the patriarch of Constantinople) is indeed ecumenical. Also, there are a number of issues that are best described by the Catholic News Service. So does this country respect religious freedom?
The Kurdish people live in four different nations today: Turkey, Iran, Iraq (this is not sovereign state!), and Syria. Today there are at least 17 millions Kurds living in Turkey and only recently the Supreme Council for Radio and Television finally took the important step of permitting television and radio broadcasting in Kurdish, although only for one hour a day. But Kurds are not the only minority that has problems with the Turkish state. The Laz people have their own problems. A Laz singer was banned from singing in his own language in the Turkish public televevion. So does this country respect minorities?
So should Turkey be part of Europe?