Twenty years ago, in 1987, Turkey applied for full EEC membership, a request denied after the European Parliament reported on Ankara's unsatisfactory progress, and in particular its failure to implement agreements pertaining to the Cyprus problem. On December 2006, EU foreign ministers decided to follow the Commission's recommendations and suspend talks with Turkey on eight of the 35 areas under
Despite undeniable progress by Turkey in some areas, there are serious problems surrounding the country's human rights record and relations with Cyprus, and its ability to catch up with the general level of political, economic and social development of EU member states. Both the EU and Turkey also have to contend with indifference and discontent shown by both governments and individuals due to "enlargement fatigue," especially after EU membership expanded by 10 members of the former Soviet bloc in 2004 and two more countries two years later (Palmer, 2006). This makes a total of 27 EU member countries, uniting both eastern and western halves of the continent for the first time since the Cold War broke out. There are some questions on the EU's capacity to balance its expansion and consolidation programs and some EU member states and citizens have reservations on such issues as the possible influx of Turkish workers and its impact on employment figures. However, some political
analysts believe that the underlying question is Turkey's identity, whether this identity can be accepted as part of the new Europe, and whether the geographically distant and culturally different Turkey should and can be part of a united Europe (Kubicek, 2005).
This report will deal with the EU's enlargement program and its relation to and impact on its vision of a united, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Europe and the specific problems and challenges that affect the entry of Turkey into the European Union.
B. Europe: A United Continent
"Enlargement has been at the heart of the European Union's development over several decades. The very essence of European integration is to overcome the division of Europe and contribute to the peaceful unification of the continent ." (Enlargement, 2006)
Turkey's membership in the EU 5
The dissolution of the Soviet bloc provided added impetus to the formation of a new and united Europe and a stronger and more competitive global player than any other except perhaps for the USA. The 2004 and 2006 addition of twelve new members has increased the rate of economic growth and brought more prosperity for EU member countries as a whole. It has established an extremely large sone of democracy, peace and the rule of law in the continent.
"The European Commission estimates that joining the Union will add up to one percent extra growth each year for newcomers during the first ten years of membershipThe enlarged single market will provide competitive EU firms with greater business opportunities, create jobs and raise tax revenues."
Enlargement has laid the foundation for continent-wide peace and stability, and encouraged the growth of human rights-based and democratic