Admitting Turkey to the EU: Assessing the opportunity and the risks
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Institute for International Business and
Global Executive Forum
Center for International Business Education & Research
Peter Widmer is financial advisor to a small number of wealthy European families. He previously was
Chairman of Julius Baer Investment Management, Inc. and Member of the Executive Board of Julius Baer
Holding in Zurich, responsible for the company’s institutional investment activities outside Switzerland.
Prior to working for Julius Baer, Widmer was with Swiss Bank Corporation and London & Dominion Trust
and Thomson-Schwab & Co. He holds the Commercial Diploma from the Swiss Business Association.
Describing the EU’s decision to begin the process to admit Turkey as both a risk and an opportunity,
Peter Widmer in his address to the Global Executive posed some questions: “How can a 99 percent Suni
and Islamic nation, which Turkey is, be successfully integrated into the Christian tradition and history of
the existing EU?
“However, could this be the great opportunity to bring Europe and the Islamic Middle East together for
their mutual benefit?”
There is disagreement on Turkey’s status as a European country. Not surprising considering that 95
percent of its territory is in Asia. “Turkey has politically sensitive neighbors like Iraq, Iran, Georgia and
Armenia,” said Widmer. “Can Western and Asian nations work together closely within an organization
such as the EU?”
With Turkey’s admission, “the population of the EU will expand by 15 percent for a 3 percent added GDP.
So as in the case of the 10 new eastern countries, there is an initial factor of dilution in the economy. Is
this a risk worth taking?”
Negotiations to start
In 1987 Turkey’s request to join the EU was rejected on the grounds that they weren’t ready. “Last month
the EU Commission, which is the executive body, recommended that all EU heads of stat