Tuesday 27 December 2011 14:40
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Turkey continues to push for EU membership
Islam Times - Turkey's relationship with France could place strain on its heavily debated admission into the European Union. Yet Turkey's Minister of EU affairs say recent events will not affect the country's push for membership.
Turkey continues to push for EU membership
In 1959, Turkey's journey began when it applied for associate membership of the European Economic Community, the EU's predecessor. In 2005, negotiations for full membership started…but have somewhat slowed since. As well, public opinion on the issue has also weaned. Today only roughly 23% of Turkish people see the benefits of membership.

Yet public opinion will not sway the government's position says the EU coordinator at Istanbul Commerce University.

So too says Uguz Demir. He sees membership bringing economic, social and political benefits to all countries in the union.

Economically, trade would increase. Currently more than 50% of Turkey's exports go to European countries, which means big bucks. This could help push Turkey's economy to second place in the EU by 2050, as predicted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

However, the leading factor in the debate remains the contentious issue of Cyprus. Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cypriot south, which gained EU member status in 2004.

France and Germany have been the most vocal, saying Turkey's admission would not be desirable since it was not a European country according to their standards.

Yet supportive EU members highlight Turkey's dynamic economic development, young population, and its continued contribution to stability in the region.

While current relations between Turkey and France are cold, they have never been particularly warm when it comes to Turkey's membership into the EU.

And if Nicolas Sarkozy wins the Presidential elections next year, France's position on the matter is likely to stick.

It's up to Turkey to decide, with its bustling economy, if this battle is worth the continued fight.
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