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Italy position on admitting Turkey to EU

Italy’s Position on Admitting Turkey to the EU


The European community embarked on a policy of reunification after the fissiparous processes it had undergone in the wake of World War II. The institutionalization of the European Union hereinafter referred to as the EU, and its subsequent enlargement was serving as a springboard for calescence. However, as the EU admitted more and more new countries into its ranks: some of the present member-states waxed angry about the new state of affairs. Some examples abound. For the sake of brevity, this paper does not delve into the events that happened in the days of yore. Using the fifth wave of the EU’s enlargement as a point of departure, it would be fair to assert that the thumping majority of the organization’s members took a less jaundiced view of the whole process than expected. An important thing to remember is that this wave was aimed at engulfing those states of Eastern Europe that the Soviet government used as its puppets during the Cold War. After the dissolution of the USSR, the groundswell of the public opinion was in favor of dislodging the Soviet vestiges from their socio-political systems. The Western powers also brimmed with ebullience to slip these post-socialist countries into their orbit, and accept them into a powerful economic institution like the EU. The latter was a good way of achieving this sublime goal.

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Judging by the highest standards, Italy settled into a policy of benign neglect regarding the 2004 EU enlargement. However, it was rather supportive than relucting against the initiative. The maintenance of the status quo in the realm of integration did not serve the interests of Italy. The reason is that this would be inimical to the efflorescence of the union. Before the 2004 enlargement, both politicians and scholars in Italy said the time was ripe to eliminate the deficit of democracy and transparency in the EU structures. They reiterated that in its enlargement to the East the EU would not simply aggrandize new territories. However, it also increased legitimacy and cohesion within the organization. Moreover, the Italian government believed that the accession of the East European countries would prop up the market considerably. The so-called Benelux countries as well as Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Austria clove to the same principles and ideas that Italy espoused. Germany in particular was the most incandescent apologist for the expansion of the EU to embrace the East European countries in 2004.

Italy’s Position on the 2004 EU Enlargement

A nettlesome question of whether to admit Turkey into the European fold has been dominating the political agenda in this integration institution for many years. Indeed, few problems proved to be more troublesome in postbellum Europe as the prospects of Turkey becoming an integral part of the EU. Only a handful of sporadic yet slaughterous conflicts on the continent caused as much headache. The member-states of the EU remained divided on the issue. Some were speaking in favor of Turkey’s accession to the organization, while others were avoiding such a possibility as the plague. On the cusp of the 21st century, the already buoyant Turkish economy received yet a further impetus. Provided that the country was admitted into the union, it would rank as the sixth strongest economy on the European continent after Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Spain. Thus, the decision of whether to embrace Turkey had nothing to do with the economic capacity of the country. On the contrary, the plans were backpedaled because legal, cultural, and ideological values that the Turkish authorities subscribed to were repugnant to those of the European community. Since the Justice and Development Party was swept to power on the wave of popular support in 2002 Turkey had managed to meet numerous of the so-called Copenhagen requirements with great? clat. The Copenhagen criteria determined a certain country’s eligibility to enter the EU. For example, Ankara had made some remarkable strides to resolve the Kurdish issue, diminishing the role of the army in the country and establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia. Moreover, the party had coerced the EU into reciprocating some of its concessions, though to a little extent.

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Notwithstanding the progress attained by Turkey, the EU still procrastinates on the decision of whether to confer the membership status on it and sets forth ever more requirements and demands. Opponents of Turkey’s admission into the EU tremble due to the thought of Ankara holding more votes in the European Parliament than any other member-state save and except Germany. Indeed, the quotas in this institution are assigned commensurably to the number of people residing in each member-state, with Turkey being the second most populated unit. Moreover, there are many more reasons why the most developed European nations lambaste the idea of Turkey enrolling in the EU. Simultaneously, those European nations that have a medium or modest level of economic development tend to approve of the Turkish ambitions to join the union. Thus, almost all Mediterranean countries, including Italy, as well as Eastern European powers, the Baltic and the Balkan states take a more lenient view of Turkey’s zeal to accede to the EU. Italy, in particular, portrays itself as an adamant champion of Ankara’s interests in the European community and admonishes the central authority earnestly to streamline the accession procedures. In juxtaposition, to such countries as Germany and Austria, the Italian government does not have to grapple with the droves of Turkish migrants daily. Consequently, the country’s politicians are not worried that the hemorrhage of personnel in Turkey would affect the labor market in Italy. Furthermore, Rome believes that the presence of the vibrant and galloping Turkish economy in the European system would have a wholesome influence on the organization’s fiscal policy.

Identity & Community

Demographic Issues

Immigration policy in Italy has always been something of a curate’s egg, with the willingness to have spates of tourists alongside the efforts to scare off migrant laborers. According to the national census conducted in the early 1990s, there were very few immigrants in Italy at that time. Italy was itself the country that inundated Europe with a cheap workforce. Hence, there was no need to elaborate on some thorough immigration laws. It had not been seen until the year 1990 that Italy passed a bill that bound guests from the so-called “suspected countries” to receive visas before coming to Europe. At the same time, it was not incumbent on the bona fide visitors from the “safe countries” to apply for a visa. If it had not been for the EU, Italy’s legislation in the sphere of immigration would have been much more caffeinated. However, the country had to abide by the general European standards. Italy has stiffened its immigration rules considerably since that time. The transformations in question have affected illegal immigrants and refugees alike. Officially, the country gives shelter to all people who are discriminated against on religious, racial, and ethnic grounds. Moreover, it has become harder for the victims of official molestation to receive diplomatic sanctuary or political asylum.

Italy acts as a magnet dragging immigrants from afar because it has a flourishing demimonde sector of the economy. In the 1990s, the country carried out a flurry of amnesties for all the illegal immigrants in Italy. Many critics castigated amnesty procedures and asserted that they enticed billows of new illegal migrant workers into the country. As the 21st century unfolded, Italy has experienced a few outbursts of morbid xenophobia and bellicose chauvinism towards the fugitives from its former colonies. What is more important, a strong lunatic fringe has developed recently in the staid world of Italian politics. For example, the right-wing parties Lega Nord and National Alliance won several seats in the parliament. It should be noted that their election campaign passed off under the slogans of abridging immigration.

Italy refuses to change its intransigent stance on immigration because it has ample grounds to believe that certain categories of foreigners exacerbate criminality in the country. For instance, the Italian authorities put the Gypsies, the Bohemians, and itinerants of the African extraction into this particular pigeonhole. Curiously enough, those of Muslim descent, in general, and Turks, in particular, are not usually considered to be the subversive elements in Italy, as they are elsewhere in Europe.

Foreign-Policy Issues

Being a developed capitalist power in Western Europe, Italy cannot simply adopt a lackadaisical attitude towards the processes that take place in the region. Although it would not be fair to refer to Italy as the glue that holds the European community together, the country certainly plays a crucial role in consolidating the stability and security of the region. Time and time again, the Rome government has been recognized by the US as one of the most stalwart allies of NATO. Because Italy was one of the founding states of the EU, other member countries defer to its opinion on everything. The erstwhile Warsaw Pact’s members owe Italy a lot too, for the country had spent years lobbying the European Parliament on their admission to the EU. Moreover, it took up the cudgels for these states when their participation in NATO was at stake. Simultaneously, Italy does not find it judicious to speed up the process of including ci-devant members of the USSR into NATO.

Bilateral relations with Turkey have always been of paramount importance to Italy. Rome regards Asia Minor as a bridgehead from which to expand its commercial activities in the Middle East and Central Asian countries. Moreover, the domestic market in Turkey is growing at an astonishing pace due to the rapid economic growth. As a result, Italy has a chance to fill a niche in this ever-growing market with its merchandise. During the first decade of the 21st century, prime ministers of Turkey and Italy attended a series of bilateral negotiations to try and bring about a rapprochement between Palestine and Israel. In November 2005, the president of Turkey gave an audience to his Italian counterpart for the first time in modern history. Italian supremo expressed his support for Turkey’s ambitions to join the EU. Rome and Ankara take concerted efforts to extirpate hydra-headed terrorist organizations in the countries of the Balkan Peninsula and the Caucasus Mountains. By the same token, Italy strives to build viable and mutually beneficial partnerships with other Mediterranean, Middle East, and Persian Gulf states. Among all Middle East countries, Israel merits special attention, as Italy deems it to be a role model for other regional powers.

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Economics & Trade

Internal Economic Issues

It is a matter of fact that the powerful crises erupt in the EU from time to time, be it an economic doldrums or an identity crisis. When the European community decides whether to admit a certain candidate, it considers a plethora of criteria. However, one of them is of cardinal importance. Thus, the EU benchmarks the level of economic development of the candidate states against that of the leading European powers. Many analysts opine that the fifth wave of the EU’s enlargement in 2004 spawned a series of new problems related to the low level of socio-economic development of the fledgling EU members, which, in turn, jeopardized further integration processes. Although negative effects of the 2004 EU enlargement continue to reverberate across the whole region, they have not had a deleterious impact on the Italian economy. Even though the socio-economic order of Italy did not go into a tailspin, the country had been somewhat exposed to the economic fallout from the EU’s expansion to the East. First of all, the fledgling EU members were slow to integrate into the so-called Schengen Area. Thus, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus have not yet acceded to the Schengen Area, while Poland, Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania failed to become members of the Eurozone. The fact that these countries did not accept the euro as their legal tender is inimical to the EU’s fiscal policy.

After the Ankara government had implemented a string of successful reforms, the country managed to leapfrog five EU member-states in terms of transparency in making business. It is a disgrace, but the level of venality in Italy is higher than in Turkey. Speaking about the expansion of Turkish trade, it has not affected domestic producers in Italy so far. The odds are that it will not hurt the Italian economy because Turkey still has to upgrade its commodities to European standards to fill a specific market niche. One way or the other, Italy is suffering from a relatively high unemployment rate. As of October 2013, it is 12, 5%. Females in the southern regions of the country who cannot break the so-called “glass ceiling” constitute the most vulnerable group. However, it should be mentioned that it is political hibernation and an effeminate economy that are responsible for the soaring unemployment in Italy. According to the unimpeachable source, outsourcing and illegal immigration have not had an important bearing on the state of affairs in the country.

External Economic Issues

The public sector in Italy has recently become the nucleus of the country’s economy around which multifarious companies cluster. By the same token, the lion’s share of Italy’s external trade is represented by the public sector. Not so long ago, the entrepreneurial mafia played an essential role in the country’s foreign trade. They combined coercive methods of foreign-trade exploitation with the elements of market relations. The geographical dimension of Italy’s foreign-trade ties is concentrated primarily on the EU member-states, which purchase nearly 60% of all Italian commodities earmarked for export. The 2004 EU enlargement, in turn, opened up a cornucopia of new markets for Italy and eliminated all trade barriers between them. Simultaneously, Turkey’s external trade cannot piggyback on its products, as they usually do not satisfy the European standards.

Pre-Negotiating Strategizing

Even though Italy is one of the most whole-hearted advocates of Turkey’s accession to the EU, the overwhelming majority of European states support its ambitions as well. It should be noted that Turkey is already a member of certain EU-brokered initiatives like the Union for the Mediterranean. Among the most influential powers, only France and Germany remonstrate about Ankara being brought into the European fold. On the other hand, Italy is unwavering in its commitment to having Turkey admitted. It seems like there is nothing that could upset its aplomb and determination. Even though the Vatican City holds a certain degree of sway over the right-wing political parties and broad masses of the population in Italy, its explicitly anti-Turkish rhetoric will not prevail on the Rome government to reverse its attitude towards the Turkish issue. The Turkish people herald the EU as a byword for equality and yearn for greater freedom and democracy. However, the organization will not admit Turkey just out of a sense of noblesse oblige. The Ankara government needs to continue on the reformist path, for instance, to circumscribe privileges of the army, etc. The bottom line is that Turkey should arm itself with patience and wait with the expectancy of a catechumen till the EU embraces it.

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