TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr. Mai 2010

Sektion 1.7. European Identity and the Perspectives of Turkish Membership
in the European Union

Sektionsleiterin | Section Chair: Lucie Tunkrova (Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Section report 1.7.

European Identity and the Perspectives of Turkish Membership
in the European Union

Lucie Tunkrova (Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey) [BIO]



There has been a growing amount of literature on how the EU is constructing the European identity and why. Most of the research done on the topic is qualitative given the nature of the topic and the problematic operationalisation of European identity. The section examined the examples of the debate on Turkish membership in the EU and how the EU seeks to utilize the debate for strengthening the notion of European identity. The choice of Turkey was deliberate as it is a controversial topic in many Member States and among them. Some consider Turkish membership as a test to European identity and/or an issue that can help to define/foster the content of European identity. As such, the question is problematic and consensus cannot be expected to appear easily, which in turns makes it into a topic where the EU has to show a sophisticated level of communication abilities. The section shall consisted of two Czech and three Turkey-based  presenters, who prepared papers on the various aspects of European identity and how it related to the recently opened negotiations of possible future membership of Turkey in the EU.

Reda Ifrah opened the section with a paper on The European Union and Maghreb: The New Partnership. He discussed the historical background of relationships between Maghreb and the European Union introducing the consequences of this several years lasting partnership between the EU and Maghreb to the whole Mediterranean region. He then presented the recent developments of the relationship between the EU and Maghreb and finally tried to predict future direction of the EU within this region.  Because there some pronouncements (especially Nicolas Sarkozy) that Turkey should be part of the Union of Mediterranean and should not join EU he also focused on the possible implications for EU-Turkey relationship.

Pavel Senderak discussed the manifold aspects of European identity that has been influenced by various cultures, including the Muslim one. He argued that the controversy regarding EU’s "absorption capacity” were directly related to Turkey and its road to membership. He claimed that examining the relations of the Union and Turkey may help uncloak the limits of European integration process. He concluded that the precariousness of their relationship was caused by the lack of identity and clarity on both sides, which would otherwise reveal whether Turkey was compatible with the EU membership or not. Before the possible Turkish accession, both parties need to find a consensus on their own identity, at least the part related to Turkish accession, and consider whether Turkey’s EU membership is desirable or not.

Erdoan Shipoli’s presentation The Compatibility of Social and Cultural Values in Turkey and the EU looked into the issue of cultural “harmonization” between Turkey and the EU. He divides the debate into two major areas according to “natural” and “civic” culture. Starting with historical background of changes made in the civic culture of Turkey, the presenter turned to the important role of the Islamic groups and their role in the formation of the Turkish societal and cultural values.

Denitsa Sokolova presented a paper Bulgarian perspective on Turkish EU membership examining the official policy of Bulgaria for the issue Turkey to be member of the European Union through three factors:  the position of the Bulgarian government, the position of the Bulgarian media and the position of the society in Bulgaria.

Seval Arslan’s paper The status o women in modern Turkey: do they have a name? examined the dynamics of Turkish feminism arguing that it has transformed into a movement that works for women’s rights for the sake of the women as individuals, not for the sake of the nation or the Republic, which was the case in the first decades of the independent Turkish republic. She argued that it was not wrong to claim that some women have already claimed their names in modern Turkish society and they are almost equal to men, however, for some women, the situation is still the same and should be fixed by the help of these modern feminists who can be successful workers as well as successful mothers. Women are not actually born women, as Beauvoir claims, but made to be women by the masculine society. So it is also in the hands of women to change this fate into a more equal one via being in cooperation.

1.7. European Identity and the Perspectives of Turkish Membership in the European Union

Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections

TRANS   Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  17 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Lucie Tunkrova: Section report 1.7. European Identity and the Perspectives of Turkish Membership in the European Union  - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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