In a few weeks (3 October) official membership negotiations are set to begin between Turkey and the European Union.
As this date approaches opinion polls across the European Union show that convincing solid majorities of the population in all EU member states of the advantages of this step remains a challenge. A recent survey commissioned by the German Marshall Fund found that the largest number of EU citizens who were polled remain undecided. It also found that among those who had an opinion a majority were sceptical of Turkey's EU membership.
One of the most common arguments among those who are sceptical about Turkish membership is that Turkey really has two souls, only one of which is European. They contrast the cosmopolitan outlook and prosperity of Istanbul ('European Turkey') with the Anatolian interior, which is seen as backward, impoverished and non-European: the 'other Turkey'.
This new ESI report - Islamic Calvinists - Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia – takes a closer look at current social and economic realities in Central Anatolia.
It explores closely the recent economic revolution that has turned a number of former trading towns into manufacturing centres. It looks at the cultural consequences of this development, at what some Turkish analysts have called a "quiet Muslim Reformation." It explores the link between culture and growth in a strikingly successful industrial district and looks at the position of women in this transformation. Our website holds additional background information such as photos and portrays of people and places mentioned in the report as well as an interactive map of the Kayseri province.
Simultaneously, ESI is undertaking research to better understand the debate on Turkey and enlargement in different EU countries. The first report – on the Turkey debate in Austria – will appear within a few weeks. Please find our first output – Austrian voices on Turkey – on our website.
Before October, we will also present the latest articles on Turkey in our online edition of Turkish Policy Quarterly, edited by ESI analyst Nigar Göksel.