Natural and legal rights of non-Muslim ethnic minorities in Turkey
Turkey since 1999 is official candidate for membership to the European Union (EU). However a lot needs to be done to become a real member state. There are several criticisms towards this goal. Some people point out that since Turkey is mostly not in Europe (neither population nor geographically), it should not become part of the European Union. But EU responds that, "The EU is based more on values and political will than on rivers and mountains," and acknowledges that, "Geographers and historians have never agreed on the physical or natural borders of Europe." The European Union is a political project, and its borders are political. It is based on the values of democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights. Requirements of the EU are forcing the Turkish government to adopt new policies for its ethnic minorities.
Turkey is a remaining part of the former Ottoman Empire territories, which, for many centuries, contained many ethnic groups. Hungarians, Serbs, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Romanians, Tatars, Jews, Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, and many others who were allowed to preserve their unique religious beliefs and cultural practices. Ottoman state was characterized by ‘mosaics of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. Therefore, the experience of the Republic of Turkey could be a good example for other multiethnic societies in different parts of the world. In order to understand the 21st century modern Turkey, the policies regarding ethnic groups need to be investigated from when the Turkish Republic was first established. One of the most important aspects of its policies during the 20th century, towards its ethnic groups, was denial. When the Republic of Turkey was established, a ‘modernization project’ had been launched, that aimed to create a ‘new nation’ and a ‘new state’. In other words, this project was about ‘nation building’ and ‘state...