Gaining a Sense of Membership into Christian Europe
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????????? Turkey is a unique nation that has been attempting to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and Western culture. Economics and foreign policy give the strongest background to the challenges Turkey has faced and what lies ahead in Turkey?s slow acceptance into the club of Europe.
????????? The country Turkey was formed in 1923 from the partitioning of the 600 year old Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany in WWI. Mustafa Kemal was the leader greatly responsible for creating the republic and is consequently referred to as Ataturk, father of the Turks. Ataturk emphasized secularism, nationalism, and modernization in the regions around Anatolis and Thrace. Ataturk?s social, political, economic, and linguistic reforms became known as ?Kemalism?, and drew inspiration greatly from the West (state.gov). In the year 1945 it officially became a member of the United Nations and participated in the Korean War, later becoming a part of NATO in 1952. Turkey has since grown to become a strategically important eastern member for NATO, and a NATO headquarter is located in Izmir.
?After WWII, Turkey and Greece received security from communism in the form of aid from the United States in the Truman Doctrine. Turkey drafted a formal constitution in 1982 and its government currently consists of 3 branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The majority of the population lives in urban areas, Istanbul home to 9.7 million citizens and the capital Anakara 3.7 million. Turkey?s 780,580 km2 lie in one of the most earthquake prone areas of the world. Although a secular republic, 98% of the population is Muslim, the majority being Sunni. Two main ethnic groups populate Turkey, Turks and Kurds, and fears of a Kurdish uprising have heavily influenced foreign policy decisions concerning Iraq. In 1963 Turkey made an Association Agreement with the European economic unit of the time, the EEC, but little progress was made for years after in terms of advancing Turkish trade interests with Europe. Finally in 1996 Turkey was admitted as a full member of the European Union Customs Union, and at the Helsinki Summit in December of 1999 Turkey was designated a full membership candidate, breaking the stalemate between the two economies. Hopes of membership into the European Union are focused around the U.N. summit in December 2004, but recent events have complicated that goal.
????????? For years Turkey has been recognized for its strategic location, bridging the aggressive economies of the west with the large markets in the east. Standing between the Middle East and Europe, Turkey?s geographic stance puts it within reach of the opening markets in central Asia and the Middle East, and lays its borders near Caspian and Middle East petroleum, as well as natural gas from Central Asia (turkishembassy.com). Since the ending of World War II,...