Interviewer: Hello everyone! Thanks for joining us. Welcome to today’s luncheon event at the Rubi Forum in Washington D.C. I’m Tariq Shafi. Our guest speaker today is Dr. Frances Burwell and the title of her talk is “Turkey’s EU Ambition: Can We Avoid Derailment?” Dr. Burwell is the director of the Atlantic Councils Program on Trans-Atlantic Relations where she manages projects, designed to enhance understanding of U.S. – European Interaction. Her research focuses on Trans-Atlantic Relations generally with an emphasis U.S. – EU relations and on the development of European Unions, Foreign and Defense Policies. She is the co-editor of the United States and Europe in the global Arena and of the evolution of U.S. – Turkey Relations in a Trans-Atlantic context. She has served as repertoire or co-author for number of Atlantic Council policy papers including ‘Turkey On the Threshold: Europe’s Decision and U.S. Interest. Welcome to the Rubi Forum Dr. Burwell. I was wondering if you could start off by giving us a very brief historical perspective as to when this application as it were by Turkey to join to the EU started some of the road blood, some of the sponsors, some of the opposition also, and bring us up to date and then go forward if you could.
Interviewee: Sure. Let me say first, and many thanks to the Rumi Foundation for inviting me to do this. I wanted to let people know before starting into the history that I am primarily an EU watcher. I have spent a fair amount of time watching Turkey, but particularly with coverage of this issue. I thought that in discussing this issue today, what I would provide is more of European perspective. I would like to take seriously what I understand is one of the Rumi Forum’s missions which is to enhance cultural, cross cultural understanding and recognition of the points of view of others. So at times, what I am going to say may sound different certainly to what one hears in the debate in Turkey. But I hope that it will be useful in understanding where the European Union is coming from. Turkey has been an applicant for EU membership for quite a long time. It first filed for a Custom’s Union, and that was blocked for quite some time but is now in operation. In 1999 or thereabouts, it was granted formal candidate stature which is an official term to be a candidate for a member. But it was also decided that Turkey did not meet what was called the Copenhagen Criteria at that point. Copenhagen Criteria have to do with your economic development, and particularly on market economy, democracy and some other elements, particularly in the social sphere. But by 2004, the European Union decided that Turkey had met these criterias sufficiently so that it could begin the accession-negotiation process. Now, this is a complicated, very long process. Turkey actually began the process a full year later. Because once you’ve been given the opportunity to open negotiations, there’s a long process of going through Turkish laws and EU laws and seeing how they differ doing a bench marking. And it wasn’t until that was completed that any of the formal negotiations could open. Now, the EU has expanded throughout its history. It started out as 6 then went to 12 then went to 15, and it’s currently at 27. The EU has become quite practiced in figuring out what an applicant country needs to do in terms of its laws. The EU though is also developing the whole time that this goes on. So, if a country enters membership negotiations, the EU will have a certain number of laws called the acquis communautaire, and this can cover everything from environmental regulation to social policy to financial services regulation, all sorts of issues. It is now believed or estimated that more than 50% of Britain’s laws, France laws, Germany’s laws, anyone who is the union comes from the union, and the National Parliaments only ratify those and translate them if you will into national law. So it’s an extensive process that goes very deeply into all countries that are members of the European Union down to how you would label vegetables that are sold at a green grocery. There was a big fuss in the United Kingdom when they were made to add metric weights to the vegetables, the carrots or whatever that were for sale.