(This blog post is contributed by Harper Clark, a summer ’16 undergraduate intern with HasNa Inc. All views and opinions reflected in this article strictly belong to the author.)
With a number of complex social and economic issues abound, there seems to be no immediate solution for Turkey’s entrance into the EU, especially after Brexit. However, negotiations are still ongoing, which means progress can still be made. The EU wants to see Turkey tighten up its security and immigration laws in order to protect itself from terrorism, while Turkey wants to deal with these issues independently. Brexit means a huge economic loss for both England and Europe at large, but there is a possibility that Turkey might be exactly what the EU needs to bolster economic growth and prosperity. Ultimately, what it comes down to is bilateral cooperation and understanding between the Turkish and the rest of Europe, addressing concerns on both sides of the aisle.
What does all this mean for the average Turk living in such a tumultuous time in Turkey’s history? Without European visas this means that young Turks who are looking for a job cannot go to other European countries to seek work. This is quite limiting to the youth who are looking for meaningful careers and want to branch off from agriculture, textile manufacturing, and tourism, three staples of the Turkish economy. We could see rising unemployment and a greater disparity of wealth with socio-economic tensions. In Turkey, as in many other countries, the rich seem to be getting richer, and the poor seem to sliding deeper down the hole of poverty. Of course with this migration comes a lot of racism, xenophobia and just hatred in general for those that are different from them both ethnically and in terms of religion. What Turkish youth must do in order to stabilize their country for the coming decades is develop understanding between the new refugees, since an end to the war in Syria does not seem to be coming anytime soon. They must cultivate cultural understanding so that Syrians can integrate into Turkish culture effortlessly until it is safe to go back to their home. Turkish youth have more opportunities than ever to strengthen their economy and really make Turkey a model for economic resilience and strength.
Personally, I recommend opening up dialogue about the issues at hand and not keeping anything off the table. The problem seems to be that there are too many non-negotiable subjects to Erdogan; such as the way they handle security and anti-terrorism policies, which stifles progress. On the EU’s side there are definitely a lot of standards that they will have to hold Turkey too, some of which they have to be more flexible about like their economic and climate change policies. What seems to be the biggest problem in the way of Turkey’s accession into the EU is their long list of human rights abuses. The Copenhagen criteria were created to keep the European countries up to these high standards and that is exactly where Turkey falls disappointingly short. Turkey must rectify this problem immediately, not just for its accession into the EU but because it puts the people of Turkey in a negative light. As a country that wants to prosper as a member of the EU it is essential that the Turkish government allow the people to exercise their right to freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. These have all been problems in the past that simply cannot be ignored anymore. Once the Turkish government takes a step forward in their human rights record they will also take a step forward in their path of accession into the EU.
From an American youth’s perspective I sympathize with the plight of the Turkish youth. It is a very chaotic time to be a Turkish millennial and I fear that under Erdogan’s regime their voices will not be heard, which could have costly effects. I do live in hope that there are serious governmental reforms on the way, which will lead to more opportunities and possibilities in Turkey. We are on the brink of change in a country that has yet to prove its unwavering stability so I anticipate a major transformation in the way that Turkey operates between both Europe and the Middle East.