On Wednesday the 18th of June, Karolina Opawski and I, as VPs of the IE Emerging Markets Club, had the honor of hosting Hakan Karabalik, Turkish Trade Ataché to Spain. He came to educate our student body about issues surrounding Turkey’s potential admittance to the EU by participating in a debate with our own Gonzalo Garland. Well, we labeled it a debate however it was un-moderated and Gonzalo was advocating a position he does not personally subscribe to. This is how the event unfolded:

In his opening statements Gonzalo covered issues such as:

– The fact that only a small portion of Turkey is actually in Europe.
– Morocco was essentially denied admittance on mostly geographical grounds.
– The fact that the EU has grown from 15 to 27 and there are not enough funds to support another developing country. Even now the new entrants are not seeing the same capital flows as the original members.
– As its population is growing rapidly, Turkey will have the largest number of votes in the counsel.
– Turkey still has to find its identity as a secular democracy as its Islamic government is at odds with the Constitutional court.
– Turkey does not recognize Cypress as a sovereign nation.
– Human and women’s rights leave something to be desired by western standards.
– Public opinion in the EU does not support accession of Turkey.
Hakan countered with several good points:
– 50% of Turkeys current trade is with EU nations.
– Turkey is the 6th largest trade partner of the EU.
– European companies are the largest block of investors in Turkey.
– There is already substantial economic and financial integration between the EU and Turkey.
– Turkey understands Asia and the Middle East and can help Europe form better commercial relationships with these regions.
– Turkey has trade agreements with Asian and Middle Eastern nations that will benefit Europe.
– Europe has an Aging workforce and population; Turkey can help provide the next generation of labor with its young and growing population.
– Hakan defined Turkey as “a European nation with close ties to Asia and the Middle East”.
Some of the most insightful student comments were:
– Germany is still having a hard time integrating within itself, how can Europe handle the integration of such a large nation with such a different culture?
– Does Europe have another solution to its labor problem?
– Acceptance of Turkey would be a way to bridge the gap between civilizations.
– Europe needs to fix its internal problems before bringing in new nations.
– To compound the prior point, Ireland’s recent vote is a symptom of issues with the EU, not a problem in itself.
– Turkey has already benefitted from the process to prepare for acceptance to the EU and if it continues to stabilize and grow it might not need Europe any longer.
– Why wouldn’t Turkey settle for an economic partnership with the EU?
o A response to this was that Turkish business people have major problems getting visas and traveling freely. A political partnership is also necessary for both sides to benefit.
– Hakan closed the debate with the statement that “it would be like a marriage”, pointing out that a relationship is never perfect when you decide to move forward and that at some point Europe needs to decide what it wants to do regarding this issue.

This is not intended to be an omnibus list of points raised, but a starting point for discussion on IE’s economic forum. There were some very passionate participants at the event; I hope that some of you take advantage of the opportunity to further discuss these issues online. I would like to offer a big thanks to those that attended the debate and hope that you took something away from it. Further, a special thanks to IE professor Alber Sabanoglu Segura is in order as he was instrumental in organizing the event.
-Paul DelVecchio, IMBA 2008

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