ISTANBUL — For the financially strapped European Union, there is one lingering question: Should Turkey become the newest member of the EU?
The European Union is comprised of different countries, each represented in legal decisions. There have been no additions to the EU since 2007. Turkey initially applied to join the EU in 1987, and is still considered a candidate country.
The country’s location is part of the debate. Turkey is a Euro-Asian country, although the majority of it resides in Asia. But the majority of the debate is political.
Fuat Keyman, a professor of international relations at Sabanci University in Istanbul, spoke on the topic of Turkey joining the EU. He commented on the significant growth of Turkey and appeared excited when the topic of the potential 2020 Olympics in Istanbul was mentioned.
Keyman has a lot of national pride but was able to speak from both sides about the debate. He said many Turkish people see admittance into the EU as a golden ticket and the main aspect missing from their country. But he said some citizens have not yet adjusted to the Western world. The country is still in a transitional stage.
According to Keyman, many Turks view admission into the EU as a chance for a better life. Even though Turkish people have a strong desire to join, the EU said they still have many developments to make before the issue is discussed again.
As a whole, the country has experienced significant growth in many aspects. Currently, the Turkish economy is doing better than the overall European economy.
Alexandra Giordanella, a junior Elon University student taking the Cultures of Islam course in London, said she thinks it would be an intelligent decision for Turkey to join the EU.
“Turkey has a prosperous economy and is a good role model for the Arab world,” Giordanella said.
She said the country must take hold of its internal struggles before pursuing membership as a westernized country as well as a great location for trade between Europe and Asia.
Although Turkey has made several developments, other countries are hesitant about its admission into the EU. Voting in the EU depends on the size of a country, and Turkey would automatically have the most votes.
Religion is a seldom discussed part of the debate. Giordanella said Turkey is predominantly Muslim and the EU is mainly Christian.
“If Turkey is admitted to the EU, it will send a positive signal to the wider Muslim world,” said Faissal Hameed, a Muslim professor living in the United Kingdom.
“I accept there are issues surrounding human rights and the large population of Turkey, but I feel these will, in the long term, be outweighed by the benefits that Europe will procure from a modern Muslim country with a dynamic economy and a young population joining its ranks,” Hameed said.