Should Europe Go Cold Turkey?

Mar 07, 2005


Dr.  Stefan Voigt 
Professor of Economic Policy
University of Kassel, Germany

Turkey has successfully met the European Union’s democratic conditions for membership, thus allowing further discussions about full integration by 2015.  Yet many on the continent still wonder if Turkey belongs in the EU.  Turkey - a large, poor, and overwhelmingly Muslim country - lies mostly in continental Asia, sharing its borders with Iraq, Iran, and Syria.  In addition, many prominent EU countries strongly oppose a Turkish membership, most notably Germany and France.  Austria has argued Turkey be limited to a “privileged partnership” status.  President Bush, at one time Turkey’s champion in its push to join the EU, has since toned down his support.  With so much opposition, why do the accession talks continue?  

Turkey has certainly undergone many changes to ensure its eligibility.  It has created a freer press, broader political rights, and abolished the death penalty.  Turkey recognizes itself culturally as a Muslim country, but politically as inherently secular:  a unique combination within the Muslim world.  Because the EU is committed to the idea of a democratic, pro-Western, and prosperous Muslim country as an ally and values Turkey’s strategic geographic location, it is deemphasizing the current state of the Turkish economy.

Dr. Stefan Voigt, Professor for Economic Policy at the University of Kassel, Germany, will facilitate an interactive discussion on the pros and cons of admitting a new neighbor into the EU.  Dr. Voigt will present his research and findings and then open the floor for thoughtful, earnest debate.