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Social Development In Turkey With European Union Implications

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“Our great ideal is to raise our nation to highest standards of civilization and prosperity.” In the light of Ataturk’s words, governments in Turkey have always tried to enhance the living standards of citizens. One of the most important steps for this purpose is the beginning of the EU integration process. Turkey signed a corporation treaty with European Economy Community in 1963 and the process started. Since that time, Turkey’s integration to EU has had important positive outcomes in terms of social development.

To begin with, Turkey’s education system before the integration process was similar with the story: Once upon a time, animals in a forest decide to educate all of the young animals with the same syllabus. After a while, rabbits injured in the flying lessons cannot run as fast as in the past. Similarly, children were criticized for their low grades and encouraged to develop themselves in lessons they are not interested in. Turkey is still too far to have a developed education system when compared to EU, because of economical (insufficient fund) reasons. Turkey is the poorest country in terms of GDP and GDP per capita when compared to EU-25 countries вЂ"even compared to Bulgaria and Romania both of which will be an EU member in 2007 (Schuman). Nevertheless, since the integration process, Turkish governments have showed so much effort to develop the education system, especially about the “education of educators” in collaboration with EU. Not only Turkey has developed in terms of education, but also in terms of health

EU’s health criteria are summarized in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) article 152/1: “The community shall contribute towards ensuring a high level of human health protection by encouraging cooperation between the member states and, if necessary, lending support to their action.” Europeans see health as a basic right, as an area in which there is a practice of solidarity, equity and as the basis of economic development. Hence, Turkey made and practiced several laws, developed institutional capacity, employed qualified managers and tried to change the system in the light of the principles “solidarity and including everyone”. However, there are still several differences between Turkey and the EU. The average portion for health services from GDP is 8.93% for EU-15 countries whereas 6.6% for Turkey. The infant mortality rate in EU-15 is 0.046% while 0.36% in Turkey (World Health Organization, 2005). Not only education and health, but also development of human rights is one of the basic indicators of a country’s social development level.

“A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, the penalty to be imposed shall be imprisonment for a term of six months or three years” (Article 301/1). In the Wikipedia entry summarizing

“Arguments used against Turkey’s membership” вЂ"in terms of human rights- it is indicated that the prosecutions of Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak вЂ"because of their ideas

and speeches about Armenian Genocide- proves a clear contradiction between the

freedom of speech and article 301/1 of Turkish penal code. “The prosecutions have largely been initiated by nationalists within the judicial system, intent on derailing the accession process” (Wikipedia). Nevertheless, Turkey has taken big steps

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