Relations with European Countries

Having gone through the shocks of two world wars, the end of the Cold War following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the German reunification and accession of most of the Eastern Bloc countries to the European Union (EU) over the last century, Europe is still undergoing a process of change, transformation and reform. This process, which illuminates Europe’s future path, demonstrates that retainment and reinforcement of Europe’s position as a “dominant power” in the future global system depend on the success of European integration. The main areas that pose a challenge to European integration are the need to increase economic competitiveness on a global scale, construction of meaningful policies in accordance with its 21st century vision and the sustainability of cultural inclusiveness.

In addition to the United State’s sizable economic force, the rapid rise of the Far East and especially China, as well as Latin America, as emerging economic super powers, along with Africa’s upward trend, is placing strain on Europe’s economic future. The global economic and financial crisis that begun in 2008 badly shook the Europe.

After almost 10 years of crisis and uncertainty, the Eurozone now has a more positive economic climate. The growth rates of the member states have converged for the first time since the Euro came into existence.

The recovery of growth rate figures has restored back investors’ trust in the European economies. In the fırst half of 2017, the growth rate in the Eurozone was 2.3%. It is estimated that this recovery will continue in 2018.

On the other hand, it is expected that one of the biggest challenges for European economies will be the Brexit process. In addition to Brexit, the current fragility and poor investment figures might cause a downside risk for the growth rates of European countries.

The economic crisis had played a crucial part in shaping European politics and society. As a matter of fact, increasing unemployment due to the economic crisis has had a negative impact on how the public views migrants, and this has been translated into increased intolerance, alienation and a rise in racism in general.

Turkey, as a part of the Western world since the Paris Conference held in 1856, brings multiple added value to Europe and the West World and provides geographical depth to the continent, while enriching its ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity. As an active member of international organizations such as the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO and OSCE, Turkey’s strategic aim is EU membership. Turkey, whose geographical and cultural heritage provides her access to regions beyond her immediate neighborhood, aims to consolidate her place in Europe’s past with EU membership in its future. Despite artificial obstacles, Turkey also remains committed to her full membership negotiation process.

Turkey’s bilateral relations with the European countries are developing on a parallel course in line with Turkey’s strategic EU membership goal, but independent of the political strains that accompany this process. At the same time, economic and commercial ties with Europe are strengthening as well. European countries are important trading partners of Turkey. Turkey’s foreign trade with the Western and Central European countries amounted to 38.5% of its total trade in the period January-October 2017. Their export share was 42% of the whole Turkish exports whereas their import share was 36% at the same timeframe.

The inflow of foreign capital from European countries is increasing day by day, while private sectors run joint projects and millions of European tourists visit Turkey every year.

Over five million Turkish people living in European countries constitute a cultural bridge between those countries and Turkey. The Turkish community residing in European countries is being encouraged to integrate and play a larger role in the political, economic, cultural and social life of the countries where they reside, while preserving their own cultural identity. However, Turkish citizens living in Europe are being directly affected by recent efforts to qualify migrants as “the other”, which places emphasis on differences rather than similarities.

At a time when Europe’s future is taking shape, Turkey with a visionary approach is intensifying her relations and cooperation in all areas with European countries, while retaining its influential position on the international arena.