Turkish and French Intellectuals Agree on Turkey’s EU Membership

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Turkish and French scholars discussed Europe’s future at the 10th Abant Platform in Paris on March 31 – April 1, 2006. The event was organized with the International Council of Social Sciences (Conseil International des Sciences Sociales) and the Human Sciences Research Council (La Maison des Sciences de l’Homme).

Europe should accept Turkey as a member in order to complete its democratization.

Olivier Abel, French philosopher

During the meeting, titled “Turkey-France Discussions: Republic, Cultural Pluralism, and Europe,” both French and Turkish intellectuals agreed that Turkey’s European Union (EU) membership would make a significant contribution to Europe.

Professor Nilufer Gole said that the two countries had come together for the first time in this regard, a move she deemed crucial for bilateral relations. French philosopher Olivier Abel added that Europe needs Turkey for its own future. “Europe should accept Turkey as a member in order to complete its democratization,” he said.

French philosopher Professor Monique Canto-Sperber, lecturer at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure, said that the EU was undergoing a transformation and that Turkey could play a bridge role for the EU. She said the liberal economy had changed the borders of Europe, noting, “We see that Europe’s geo-strategic understanding has started to change.”

Canto-Sperber also discussed globalization and the problems that Turkey encountered during its globalization process. “It is natural for Turkey, which was established on the basis of the nation-state model, to be influenced from Europe,” she said. Canto-Sperber claimed that it was very important to see how Turkey would address certain concerns, such as the Kurdish issue, rising nationalism, and the Armenian genocide allegations.

Countering the common argument that globalization leads to homogeneity, Canto-Sperber said the process has actually strengthened local identities in all societies. “Globalization does not guarantee a world of peace where all the nation states are eliminated. On the contrary, it causes communities to highlight their cultural identities with the instinct of defense,” she said.

Canto-Sperber suggested that understanding the effects of globalization helps countries like France and Turkey better understand each other, particularly within the framework of EU membership.

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