Why is Turkey so important for Europe?


Coup attempt on Friday, July 15 once again drew attention to Turkey. Over the last few years this country hit the headlines many times. Tangle of different events leads to one conclusion. What happens in Turkey has more and more significant implications for global political and economic order, including impact on the European Union.

War in Syria and migrant crisis

Turkey shares 900 – km border with Syria. After war broke out in Syria in 2011, Turkey has become a target of refugees for whom refugee camps were set up. Turkey became a main route used for traveling to Europe not only by refugees from Syria but also from Afghanistan and Iraq. As far back as 2015 refugees arrived in Greece, mostly illegally and from there, they headed to Germany. In view of EU’ s inability to cope with migrant surge on its own, the European Union has decided to take action together with Turkey.

EU – Turkey migrant deal

Deal between the 28 EU member states and Turkey came into effect on March 20, 2016. In consequence, those migrants who arrive in Greece are returned to Turkey, if they do not apply for asylum or their claims were rejected. In exchange for that, the EU provides financial assistance meant for refugees. Additionally, those who don’t try to illegally cross the border and wait in Turkey, have priority in resettlement. For every Syrian who was sent back from Greece, the EU pledged to take one migrant from Syria. Eventually , the EU is going to take 72 000 migrants.

Accession to the European Union

In return for migration deal, the EU agreed to give Turkey visa-free access to Schengen area. Moreover, the EU promised to reopen accession talks with Turkey. Its membership is s source of concerns due to the conflict with the Kurdish minority in the eastern Turkey, the fact that Islam is dominant religion in the country, large and young population (today it is nearly 80 million), what would give Turkey an influential voice in the EU and political system which is still not yet stable.

Coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and what happens next calls into question validity of Turkey’s accession. As European officials say, results of the coup have raised concerns amidst international community. It especially relates to voices calling for reinstate death penalty in Turkey. It is also indicated that what happened on Friday in conjunction with migration crisis and ongoing war in neighboring Syria shows that it is still to early for Turkey to join the EU.