The other side of the coin: the growing opposition in turkey against to the european union accession

Graph – 2: Age structure and population of Turkey (2013-2075)

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Graph – 2: Age structure and population of Turkey (2013-2075)

Source: Turkish Statistical Institute, 2012.
By taking into consideration the data from the basic scenario in the report of Population Projections; the graph42 presents the changes on age structures of population in Turkey, besides introducing the prospective growth of the population in the stated years. The data shows that a significant increase is anticipated for the age group of 65 and over whilst the age groups of 0-14 and 15-64 slightly decrease. The age group 15-64 will continue to have an important role in population, even though a decline is expected in the future.
On the other hand, the situation of the population structure in the EU is not a secret. Even though there are 503,663,601 inhabitants in the EU43, the proportion of the age group of 65 and over ceaselessly augments in population of the EU.

A similar report was published by Eurostat on the “Yearbook 2012”, for every ten years until 2060, including the population of all the 27 member countries of the EU. With respect to the data44, there are major changes on population structure between the years 2010 and 2050, especially on the proportions of the age groups. In spite of the fact that the age group of 0-14 is slightly declining from 15,5% to 14,3%, the age group of 65 and over is significantly increasing from 17,4% to 28,6%. Naturally, the changes on the rates also affect the age group of 15-64 that declines from 67% to 57%. As a former member of Turkish Parliament and Vice-President of Republican People’s Party (CHP), Onur Öymen underlines that these numbers should not be perceived as a simple statistical indicators. He adds that declining youth population whilst increasing the old population in the EU will cause mostly economical problems, especially in the case of social insurance; because the burden of social insurance for the age group of 65 and over will always be on the young population.45

In accordance with the results of population projections; the proportion of the age group of 15-64 will remain its place with a slight decline in population of Turkey while the proportion of same age group will significantly decrease in the 27 EU member states until 2050.

IV. 2. Geographical Features of Turkey
As it was mentioned above, another important indicator is the geographical features of a country. Even though there were some exceptions, all the ruling countries in the history were established in large areas. However, besides the size of a country, it is also very important if the land has fertile soils, natural wealth and manufacturer society. Öymen underlines that “it is not a coincidence that many early civilizations were established on the land of today`s Turkey”.46
The area of Turkey is 783,562 km2 which 8.333 km2 are the coastal strip. By considering many countries in Europe do not have that long coastal strip, some of them have not even the high level of strategic importance as Turkey has. The area of Turkey should not be underestimated. In the case of full membership of Turkey to the EU, it will be the biggest country. Actually the area of Turkey is bigger than the total areas of Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania.47
Some people define the Republic of Turkey as a bridge country to present the linkage between the continent of Europe and Asia. However, according to the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Prof. Ahmet Davutoğlu; beyond a simple "bridge country" description, Turkey has a unique geopolitical strategic importance which gives Turkey a central country status. “Among all these classifications, Turkey holds a special position. Turkey’s geography gives it a specific central country status, which differs from other central countries. For example, Germany is a central country in Central Europe, which is far from Asia and Africa. Russia is another central country in the lands of Europe and Asia, which is far from Africa. Iran is a central country in Asia, which is far from Europe and Africa. Taking a broader, global view, Turkey holds an optimal place in the sense that it is both an Asian and European country and is also close to Africa through the Eastern Mediterranean. A central country with such an optimal geographic location cannot define itself in a defensive manner. It should be seen neither as a bridge country which only connects two points, nor a frontier country, nor indeed as an ordinary country, which sits at the edge of the Muslim world or the West.”48
On the other hand, all the area in Turkey is favourable to life by having advantage in agriculture, livestock, fishery and natural wealth. It is not an extreme discourse to say that Turkey is able to be thrown upon its own resources. In fact, self-sufficiency can be provided in case of good management, especially in agriculture, livestock and fishery. For instance, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey, M. Mehdi Eker, stated that the consumption needs in agriculture of Turkey are supplied by its food industry production.49 Nevertheless, there is not a determined limit for self-sufficiency to describe what enough is or not, even for a household.
In terms of the agriculture and fishery, the results of comparison between Turkey and the EU presents how powerful Turkey is in production. There is no doubt that Turkey is one of the biggest agriculture producers in Europe by having 38.231 thousand hectares as the total utilized agricultural land.50 Compare to biggest agriculture producers in the EU by giving example on France (27.837,3 thousand hectares) and Spain (23.752,7 thousand hectares),51 insomuch that Turkey is the biggest agriculture producer. With regard to this fact, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey, M. Mehdi Eker, stated that the consumption needs in agriculture of Turkey are supplied by its food industry production.52

In accordance with 2011 fishery statistics, on the other hand, “the total production of fishery products in the EU was an estimated 6.1 million tonnes”.53 When the EU member countries are separately examined, the three largest fishery producer countries came into prominence: Spain (1.134.253 million tonnes), United Kingdom (798.491 tonnes) and Denmark (770.763 tonnes). France follows these countries with 650.419 tonnes.54 In the same year, the total production of fishery products in Turkey was 703.545 tonnes.55

IV. 3. Military Power of Turkey
In general, political leaders define power as the possession of resources which include population, territory, national resources, economic size, military forces and political stability.56 These resources are also determined as hard power because of being tangible sources of power that “makes power appear more concrete, measurable and predictable”. 57 In this context, the military power of Turkey presents the conventional meaning of military sources of a country such as mainly the size and strengths of military forces of Turkey.
As well known, Turkey and the EU (except Austria, Ireland, Sweden and Finland) are both the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Therefore, both sides take decisions and make consultations according to rules of NATO by taking into consideration of their territorial and regional security. Besides having a political and military alliance, they unite under the principle of collective defence, which is stated in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty of the NATO.
Republic of Turkey has not only “the biggest military forces of the NATO after the USA”58, but also provides “access to key strategic maritime routes”59. In other words, as “the largest army in Middle East and the second-largest army in NATO”60, Turkey has over half million troops.61 The force structure of Turkey is determined as “The Turkish Armed Forces is composed of Land Forces Command, Naval Forces Command and Air Forces Command subordinate to Turkish General Staff as well as the Gendarmerie General Command and the Coast Guard Command, which are subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in peacetime and to the Land Forces and the Naval Forces Commands in wartime”62.
On the other hand, the EU has no military forces as standing army. However, in accordance to its common security and defence policy (CSDP), the EU mostly contributes the “joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance, conflict prevention and peace-keeping, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilization”.63 In this context, European Defence Agency should also be taken into account because of having mission to support the Council and the Member States in their efforts to improve the European Union’s defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the CSDP.
The European Defence Agency64 was established on 12 July 2004 by emphasizing five main aims:

  • to develop defence capabilities in the field of crisis management,

  • to promote and enhance European armaments cooperation,

  • to strengthen the European industrial and technological base, in the field of defence,

  • to create a competitive European defence equipment market and

  • to promote research.

Every year, the EU publishes the national report of Turkey in accordance of the accession process of Turkey to the EU. Turkish Armed Forces are always one of the topics of these reports and, in general, it is written that the Turkish army should be more europeanised in terms of the size, budget and civil administration, etc. In this point, however, it should be underlined that one of the main characteristics of Turkish society is the army. Turkish people are the army based society from the beginning of all the Turkish societies. The history of Turkish has lots of military victories.65 This is also why, for the people, who do not support the EU accession, is a very sensitive and crucial topic. Therefore, Turkish society should not be examined without its military or armed forces because it is one of the main features of the society.

IV. 4. Economic Status of Turkey
During the last a few years, the mass media and the academics talk about the economical power of Turkey, in terms of economical growth in spite of world financial crisis in 2008 which later on lead to the global recession until 2012. In fact, Republic of Turkey is one of the countries which are the fastest overcame from the global economic crisis and the least affected by the global economic uncertainty in recent years. 66 Therefore, the chapter focus the economic status of Turkey as the last most important indicators of national power.
On the next page, graph 4 presents the real GDP growth rate of the EU (in general and the member states) and Turkey from 2010 to 2012. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are the countries which came into prominence from the other EU member states; even though Estonia has the least continuous and stable GDP growth rate than the other three countries. However, the real GDP growth rate of Turkey is higher than these countries in 2010 as well as in 2011. On the contrary, as the most affected country from the global economic crisis, economic regression has been observed in Greece during the same period of years that is not a secret. The situation of Greece not only affected its own economy, but also the economy of the EU member countries, especially the euro zone states. It is highly important to indicate that not all the EU member states are the developed countries and not all of them have the advanced economies. In accordance with the International Monetary Fund (IMF); there are 21 countries which have advanced economies in the European Union.67 Turkey has a developing economy as well as the rest of the other seven European countries. For this reason, the expectation of economical growth should be differentiated between the developed and developing countries.
Graph – 3: Real GDP growth rate – volume (Percentage change on previous year) 68
Source: Eurostat. Table: Real GDP growth rate Last update of data on 30 November 2013.

Turkey can be a developing country; however, it is not changing the fact that Turkey is a member country of G20. By comprising 19 countries69 and plus the EU70, "G20 members represent around 85 per cent of global gross domestic product, over 75 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population".71 The obtained satisfaction from the economic growth of Turkey led the Turkish government, AKP, to setup the new strategies for 2023 by providing continuous economic growth. “Turkish Exports Strategy for 2023 was initiated by the Ministry of Economy and Turkish Exporters Assembly in 2009. The main purpose of this strategy is to reach 500 billion dollars of exports volume in 2023, the centenary anniversary of the Turkish Republic, with an average of 12% increase in exports annually. Becoming one of the world’s 10 largest economies in 2023 and taking 1,5% share from the world’s trade are also being targeted. Furthermore, it is planned to reach 80% exports/imports ratio in 2023.”72 On the other hand, although the GDP growth rate is important to determine the economies of countries, the economical indicators like GDP per capita in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) of the countries has also critical importance because of helping to understand the welfare level of the countries. Graph 5 states that the countries, which have advanced economies, are also good level in terms of GDP per capita in PSS, even though Slovakia and Estonia are under 75. Nevertheless, Turkey appears on the list as the second least country by having 56 in 2012, after Bulgaria with 47.

Turkey realized that having strong economy is the key which opens every door much more easily. Therefore, it has strengthened its economy even though there have been significant global economical crises in recent years. This rising brought Turkey a chance to change its position in front of the EU. In other words, Turkey is not in “supplicant” position anymore and start to demand clear benefits from the EU in terms of the accession negotiations.

Graph – 4: GDP per capita in PPS - Index (EU28 = 100)73

Source: Eurostat. Table: GDP per capita in PPS. Last update of data on 30 October 2013.

The European Union was initially established as an economic union by six founding countries and transformed step by step also as a political union through a series of treaties. The EU enlarged once again, by reaching its current size of 28 member countries, with the accession of Croatia on 1 July 201374 and it continues to enlarge through the prospective accession of new member states.
As El-Agraa stated that “the EU is the most prominent scheme of international economic integration”75 and it became more a political union with the Maastricht Treaty which introduced “institutional changes and developing political competences”.76 These institutional changes and political competences were strengthened and modified through the Amsterdam Treaty77 which also presented a stronger unity. Today, the union continues to establish a European identity to become beyond only economic and political union; but also a cultural union.
In terms of the EU institutions and bodies as well as the EU symbols78; the union is governed as a national state by reminding a federation system. Furthermore, the mechanism of the EU is mostly based on the each member states` population. It is easier to explain this mechanism on the example of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. For this reason, the weighting of votes of the EU member countries is presented on the next page to clarify the importance of the population in this issue.


Table-2: Members of the European Parliament by Member States



Table-3: Distribution of Votes For Each Member State 


























Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom













United Kingdom





Spain, Poland






























Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal


















Sweden, Austria, Bulgaria





Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal





Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Ireland, Croatia
















Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg























Slovakia, Denmark, Finland










Lithuania, Ireland, Croatia

















Source: European Union, The Council of the European Union.












Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg



























Source: European Union, European Parliament.












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