Column by Alec Hamilton
Almost all countries in Europe enjoy some level of membership in the European Union, its main draw being the EU’s economic market.
From cornerstone countries such as Germany, France and the U.K. to much smaller and more recent members such as Malta and Cyprus, the EU offers numerous advantages and benefits to its members.
The EU has gone through numerous expansions over its history, most recently in the early 2000s with much of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet bloc.
However, it is currently having trouble assimilating all of its expansions. Combine this with the recent recession(s), and the EU has halted any aggressive expansion actions.
This is bad news for Turkey, who has negotiated with the EU for over half a century for membership, but continues to make little progress.
Turkey is located partially in Europe but mostly in Asia.
Historically, that connection has lent great importance (both in wealth and strategic value) to the empires and states that came before it (Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire).
While not quite as relevant as its location used to be, Turkey still represents an important link for Europe to Asia and more importantly, the Middle East.
Modern day Turkey has emerged as a bastion of stability in the Middle East as a strong secular state that lives in harmony with but separate from its numerous religious groups, though well over 90 percent of the population is Muslim.
It has a strong, emerging economy and is already an important member of NATO, which is a European organization plus the United States.
Turkey has close ties with its Middle East neighbors but has avoided (for the most part) the turmoil and upheaval of over the last decade.
All of the above factors make Turkey very viable candidate and potentially valuable asset for membership in the European Union.
Despite all of the reasons above, Turkey is a long ways away from EU membership.
Only recently has it begun the first steps toward membership and has many steps to take and reforms to enact to comply with EU regulations, laws and directives.
Fulfilling the criteria for membership is arduous process meant to test the applicant country’s will to join and willingness to assimilate into the European community.
At the moment, much of Eastern Europe is struggling to continue to meet those standards, with the recession proving to be a further setback.
We have seen upheaval in the EU because of the recent recession, and the EU’s government has its hands full with internal problems to be worrying about any further expansion.
It’s because of these current circumstances that I don’t believe Turkey will become a member of the EU anytime soon.
However, as the world and the EU recover from the recession, I believe Turkey will find itself very much wanted by the EU due to the reasons I mentioned before.
In the next 20 years Turkey will definitely be a part of the European Union.
Hamilton is a senior international relations and news-Internet double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org