Turkey and the EU

On November 10, 2005, Seyla Benhabib, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Yale University, gave a talk entitled Turkey and the EU: Ancient Battles, Current Anxieties and Future Prospects. Responding to Benhabib was Jenny White, Boston University Associate Professor of Anthropology.  Benhabib argued that Turkey’s accession to the European Union brings to light “the unresolved dialectic of institutions and identities at the heart of the EU.” The result is, “both within member states and at their borders, a deep conflict between institutional identities and cultural principles.“ According to Benhabib, Turkey today is undergoing a transition to a mature democracy, the outcome of which is not inevitable. It is vital, therefore, “that the Copenhagen criteria and not a newly discovered fear of the Muslim Other guide Europe’s negotiations with Turkey—and Europe’s negotiations with its own Islamic minorities.”  Only then can the EU continue to exercise its “salutary influence upon the political cultures as well as the economic and civil society structures of the countries aspiring to membership, such as Turkey.”

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