Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Black Sea Implications of Turkey’s EU Accession

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 11th May, 2009

JF speaking at Black Sea ConferenceI took time out from Euro-campaigning the other day to attend a day-conference in Leicester on the Black Sea, hosted by the Department of Politcs and International Relations at the university there, with the support of a couple of European academic groupings and the British Embassy in Bratislava. The Black Sea is one of the regions in which I have lectured on cruise ships in recent years and the theme of the paper I delivered at the Leicester conference was ‘Black Sea Implications of Turkey’s EU Accession’.

The Black Sea is viewed by most Britons as more than peripheral, though when Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU two years ago, it became the Union’s eastern shore, just as the Mediterranean is the EU’s southern shore, the Atlantic the western and the Arctic the northern. However, if and when Turkey accedes to EU membership (as I believe it will and should, though probably only in about another 10 to 15 years time), the Black Sea will largely become part of the Union, with important implications for relations with Russia and the European aspirations of countries such as Georgia and Armenia.

The EU will suddenly acquire frontiers with Syria, Iraq and Iran and its centre of gravity will move sharply to the south-east. Moreover, I believe its character will inevitably change. When the old Mediterranean dictatorships, Greece, Portugal and Spain,  joined, they were grasping democracy and human rights eagerly. Similarly, when the eight former Communist states of central and eastern Europe joined, they were turning their back on 40 years of an oppressive ideology and were embracing a free market economy. Even though the accession process is already the stimulus for positive economic and political reforms in Turkey, it will not fundamentally change when it becomes part of the EU. Instead, the EU will be even more diverse than it is already — a diversity which I beieve will be stimulating and should be celebrated.

(photo courtesy Carol Weaver)


One Response to “Black Sea Implications of Turkey’s EU Accession”

  1. mokaeff said

    Only one remark concerning Turkey’s future in EU. Do you really think EU members, including UK, would readily accept Turkey with it’s easily permeable borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria; with scores of domestic problems with local minorities – namely beleaguered Kurdish population; with unresolved issues with some EU member resulting in military conflict over a tiny strip of land in Cyprus? To have Turkey as NATO ally is one thing but to handle out it’s people EU passports and let them into UK unchecked is definitely another one. Are you ready to put a straight line from Syrian border towards London? I doubt you are.
    By the way, you mentioned important implications for relations with Russia. What are they?

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