The decision of the European Council in December 2004 on whether to start accession negotiations with Turkey will mark a historic turning point in Turkey-EU relations. Both sides are now standing at a crossroads contemplating whether to take advantage of the probably benefits of Turkey’s membership or bear the costs of its exclusion from the Union. This paper will explore the potential implications of integrating Turkey into the EU by charting out a multi-level, multi-disciplinary cost/benefit analysis for both sides. In this context, it will try to sort out whether enlarging to include Turkey is really something indispensable for both or either side. As the critical judgment day on whether to start accession talks with Turkey draws closer, the debate on the pros and cons of Turkish membership is becoming intense, both in Turkey and the EU. On 28 May 2004, at a conference held at the University of Oxford, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan declared that “the EU needs Turkey because of the strategic importance of the Eastern Mediterranean where Turkey possesses additional importance.” By professing that “ours is not a kind of political narcissism; Turkey also needs the EU,” he was reiterating Euro-Commissioner Günter Verheugen’s declaration that “in the aftermath of September 11, it is clearer than ever that the EU is indispensable for Turkey and Turkey is indispensable for the EU.
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