Turkey’s Membership in the EU: Realistic or Merely Wishful?

Professor Bahri Yilmaz is the owner of the Jean Monnet Chair at Sabancı University in Istanbul. He was a visiting fellow at Pembroke College, Cambridge and at the Center for European Studies  Harvard University. In addition to his academic experience, he has worked as the Chief Advisor to the Ministry of State for European Union Affairs in Ankara (1997-2002). His main fields of research and teaching interest focuses on European Union, International Political Economy, the newly emerging markets, and globalization.


“Utterly failed,” were the words chosen by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to describe the status of immigrants, especially those from Turkey, in a nation that has tried to dramatically change its stance towards minority issues.

Since September, 2010, the German and Turkish media have been debating over a controversial publication Germany Does Away with Itself. The author Thilo Sarrazin, a board member of the German Central Bank and a center-left politician, describes in his book the danger of an integration-resistant Muslim community for German society in the coming years. Sarrazin claims that Muslim immigration and high birth rate among Turkish immigrants will damage Germany’s long term economic potential.

Merkel weighed in the discussion and publicly stated that “Muslims in this country must accept that Germany’s culture is based on Christian and Jewish values.” Her key ally, the Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer further put forwardthe controversial claim in Focus Magazine, statingthat Germany must take necessary steps to “deal with the people who already live here and get tougher on those who refuse to integrate” before accepting more migrant workers.

Opinion polls and statements by leading European politicians confirm the fact that Turkey’s membership does not have wide support by most European citizens. According to the opinion polls conducted by the Emnid Institute for the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, 69 percent of interviewed German citizens are against just 27 percent in favor of Turkey’s membership in the EU. The 2010 results of the German Marshall Fund’s Annual Transatlantic

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Bahri Yilmaz

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