Austria's Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, made his opposition to Turkey joining the European Union very clear during the first weekend in August. Though Kurz is not alone in his resistance, Austria is wrong to deny the growing world power admittance into the EU.
In an interview with Kurier, an Austrian newspaper, Kurz said, “What happens [in Turkey] isn’t compatible with European fundamental values.”
Kurz may be referring to the instability of the Turkish government.
Debating Europe says that “Turkey is not a mature European-style democracy.” Struggles between the military and the government, instances of human rights abuses, and frequent denial of free speech prevent the country from experiencing a liberal democracy supported by many EU representatives.
Additionally, Kurz and other EU leaders are hesitant to allow Turkey to join the union until the country recognizes the Republic of Cyprus and releases control of islands in northern Greece.
What Austria does not seem to realize, however, is that admittance in the European Union could fix these problems.
The EU states that it seeks “to promote human rights both internally and around the world” by focusing on “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights.” In order to join the EU, Turkey would have to align itself with these core values.
If Turkey wants to join the successful political and economic union, significant changes will have to be made internally.
Austria should not refuse to admit Turkey into the EU outright because they prevent a country from transforming in a highly successful, more stable, justice-oriented nation.
One might say that EU leaders have a duty to continue encouraging Turkey to make necessary modifications.
Austrian party leader Norbert Hofer said that Turkey’s admittance into the EU could lead to a referendum.
“I believe that people are able to learn, that political structures are able to develop, and that Austria will contribute to making Europe better,” Hover said. “There is one exception, however, that is if the EU decides to let Turkey join the Union. Austrians will have to be asked whether they want this.”
Threats like this completely discourage Turkey from changing its unpopular political trends or making significant efforts to increase social justice.
If Austria keeps an open mind, however, Turkey may remain motivated to make modifications that would appeal to EU stipulations. It is possible that leaders may recognize Cyprus, give up control in Greece, and increase the quality of life for citizens in their own country.
Allowing Turkey to join the EU would have many benefits.
Geographically speaking, Turkey’s global position could provide an advantageous link between Europe and countries in Asia. Debating Europe argues that its position, as well as the strength of its army, could greatly enhance European security.
Upsetting a country in that location could prove to be terribly negative.
Turkey would add to the EU economy, as well. According to the World Bank, Turkey's $799.54 billion Gross Domestic Product makes the country the 17th largest economy in the world. The capital city of Istanbul is thriving and would add immensely to the EU economy.
Clearly, adding Turkey to the EU has benefits. More importantly, however, outright refusal to admit the transforming country presents a long list of negatives.
For political, economic, and social justice-related reasons, Austria is wrong to stubbornly reject Turkey.