UN official says Turkey is not ready for the EU

Azka Khan

United Nations official Miroslav Jovanovic spoke last night in the Governace Chambers about the controversy surrounding Turkey’s admission to the European Union. About 50 people attended the lecture. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

United Nations official Miroslav Jovanovic thinks the controversy surrounding Turkey’s admission to the European Union is not about politics, but more about the country’s culture and society.

Jovanovic, economic affairs officer in the transport division of the United Nations Economic Commission, presented his argument on the issues surrounding Turkey’s addition to the EU last night in the Kent Student Center Governance Chambers.

The lecture, titled “Turkey in the European Union: Euthanasia or the Rejuvenation of Europe,” was sponsored by the Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies through its Gerald H. Reed lecture series.

The European Union made its world debut in 1992 and currently includes 25 member countries. The EU is a political powerhouse that represents power, prestige and prosperity.

Turkey, a country that meets very few EU requirements, applied for membership last year. The membership has yet to be finalized, but the long wait has some critics speaking out.

“There are only two countries that the EU is considering for enlargement, and those are Croatia and Turkey.” Jovanovic said. “The controversy is really about the readiness of the European Union to accept such a large and relatively poor country.”

According to Jovanovic, there are issues to consider about Turkey’s readiness and willingness to accept the Union’s closed regulations, policies and spirits.

“If you want to join a club,” Jovanovic said, “you have to follow the rules of the club.”

Jovanovic provided a number of reasons why Turkey does not meet the rules of the EU and why the country will most likely not be accepted.

“It’s not that Turkey has to change its constitution, but the EU has to change its constitution if Turkey is accepted,” he said.

His first reason is Turkey’s past, in terms of political relations with other European countries, specifically Cyprus and Armenia.

“Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus as a country,” he said. “Then there is the Armenian Genocide of 1915, in which millions of Armenians were slaughtered by the Turks.”

Jovanovic said Turkey must accept its past before moving forward with involvement with the EU.

Civil rights is another issue, he said.

He continued by saying the freedom of expression in Turkey is at a very low level compared to the EU standards. He also mentioned that the treatment of women needs to be improved.

When focusing on Turkey’s economy, Jovanovic said Turkey would need 61 years in order to catch up with the average GDP of the EU.

“It is on its way to European modernity,” Jovanovic said. “But there is still a few steps that it has to take.”

About 50 people attended the lecture.

“I think it is interesting to see both the EU and Turkey perspective,” said Lisa Kurz, a junior international relations major. “It’s also interesting to learn about the cost and restrictions of the EU.”

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Azka Khan at [email protected].