The implications of the process of Turkey's accession to the European Union for Turkish Republicanism with particular reference to education

  • Fatma Nezihe Gumus

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Turkey has been a candidate for full European Union (EU) membership since the Helsinki Summit of December 1999. As it is constantly emphasized by the European Commission, the completion of the processes of Turkey's accession to membership depends on a satisfactory fulfilment of the relevant political and economic criteria. Turkey has been developing new laws to adapt its constitution in order to fulfil these requirements. For example, de-centralisation of public services, including the education system, was introduced as part of the restructuring of the relationships between central government, provincial authorities and municipalities.

However it can be argued that the criteria by which the EU has judged Turkey's progress with respect to education, omit some of the fundamental issues and dilemmas confronting the future of the education system: in particular issues relating to the role of education in the construction of Turkish citizenship and identity with respect to ethnic and cultural diversity. It is how Turkey addresses these issues that will determine its path to modernization and possibly its future in relation to Europe. In these respects the accession process has not paid sufficient attention to the importance of education. These issues raise questions about the nature of Turkish Republicanism, which since Ataturk has focussed on a centralised state administration, especially in education in order to generate social cohesion amongst a disparate population and a sense of Turkish citizenship defined by the Turkish language and a strong centralised state.

This thesis examines the various perspectives taken by senior policy makers on the role that accession to the EU may play in changing the nature of Turkish Republicanism. Some take the view that accession threatens the integrity of Turkey while others see it as essential to the modernisation of Turkey; others take intermediate positions. The views of these policy makers are related to the historical development of Turkish Republicanism and how it has shaped the views of Europe that are taken in Turkey. In the conclusion, an assessment is made of the possible changes that may take place as a result of the process of accession.

Date of Award23 Jan 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor)

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