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Turkey and the EU: What Next?

Turkey and the EU: What Next?

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This policy brief outlines two relatively positive scenarios for Turkey-EU relations.
This policy brief outlines two relatively positive scenarios for Turkey-EU relations.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Dec 05, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Current debatessuggest that there are tworelatively positive scenariosfor Turkey-EU relations. One isfor Turkey to be a member of 
a more exible, multi-layered
EU; the other is that Turkey bea democratic partner deeplyintegrated with the EU and alliedin spreading positive valuesand governance standards in
the neighborhood. At this time,
there are some steps that wouldneed to be taken to increasethe likelihood of either of thesepositive scenarios. Even thosewith contrary views about theendgame should rally around thewin-win formulas outlined in thisbrief.
 Turkey and the EU: What Next?
by Diba Nigar Göksel
December 5, 2012
Washington, DC
Current debates suggest that there aretwo positive scenarios or urkey-EUrelations. One is or urkey to be amember o a more exible, multi-layered EU; the other is that urkey be a democratic partner deeply integrated with the EU and allied inspreading positive values and gover-nance standards in the neighbor-hood. Both optimistic end-resultsrequire steps in the same direction:overcoming mutual prejudices —which have concrete implications orrelated political stances — supportingurkey’s pro-democracy civil society, visa ree travel, and integration inneighborhood initiatives. Such stepscan prepare the ground or accessionto continue more seamlessly down theline i and when the ormal blockagesare lied. Either way, they will stillenable a healthier domestic environ-ment in urkey and will capitalize onpositive synergies in the neighbor-hood. Tese win-win ormulas canand should be rallied around by eventhose who have dierent views aboutthe end-game. On the other side, theparadigm o setting dates or urkey’saccession, propounded by the urkishprime minister in October who saidthe EU would
urkey i member-ship had not been granted by 2023,may no longer be expedient.
Marked Regression
Since 2004, urkey has watched thechallenges to its accession get steeper just when it most expected to moveorward. Te accession o Cyprushas stalled urkey’s membershipindenitely. Lessons learned rompast enlargements have led the EUto impose stricter conditions or allcandidates. Some EU members havedeclared they will hold a reerendumto approve uture enlargement. Teleaders o Germany and France rom2005 and 2007 onwards, respectively,were vocally against urkey’s member-ship. Paris went so ar as to block theopening o ve chapters, or politicalreasons. Te economic crisis hasaggravated populist approaches to“cultural diversity” across the EU. Atone o regret dominates the assess-ment o EU member state representa-tives when they are reminded o theunanimous vote o EU member statesto oer urkey candidate status in1999 and to start membership nego-tiations in 2005. Te EU is widely perceived in urkey as having madealse promises and then tossed urkey 
The popularity of a leadership
keen on aunting its afnity,solidarity, and close links to
Muslim brothers than to European
friends exacerbates concerns
that Turkey has an inherently non-European disposition.
aside, hiding behind the
 fait accompli
o new procedures orEuropean public opinion.However, developments in urkey and conduct by Ankarahave also exacerbated some o these trends. As also recog-nized in EU statements and the most recent progressreport,
urkey has experienced marked deterioration onsome central pillars supporting a balance o power, suchas media and judiciary. At the same time, urkish publicopinion polls reect deepening cynicism about the EU.Te popularity o a leadership more keen on aunting itsafnity, solidarity, and close links to Muslim brothers thanto European riends exacerbates concerns that urkey has an inherently non-European disposition. Tis view was aggravated when the urkish prime minister recently suggested that capital punishment could be reintroducedin urkey because apparently this is what his constituen-cies desire. Te democratic and strategic vision o urkey appears to be in ux.Te rhetoric Ankara employs to assert itsel as a regionalpower or emphasize its indispensable role or the “weak-ening West” has increased concern about how muchmore difcult it would be to reach a consensus in the EUi urkey were a member state.
Tis perception has beenrecently heightened by urkey’s conduct in NAO.
Dueto their bilateral ris, Ankara blocks deeper cooperationbetween Israel and NAO, which has consequences or allNAO partner countries. Ankara also wrangled over theparticipation o the EU in the NAO Chicago summit o May 2012.
Because 21 o the 28 NAO member states arealso EU member states, such incidents raise concern inthe EU about having urkey in EU institutions. Toughthere is no simple solution on the horizon to reverse thesedynamics, there are steps and realities that could break (orbrake) the negative spiral.
Turning the Tide on the Brussels-Ankara Track
Among other things, the EU “positive agenda” launchedthis year involves setting up working groups to supporturkey’s eorts to align with the
(EU legislation) onchapters or which negotiations cannot be opened or the
time being.
Tis ormula clearly does not solve the essen-tial problem o the ormal stalemate, but is a way to work around it or the time being, to ensure time spent in thewaiting room is not wasted. A necessary complement to thistrack would be or the urkish people to be inormed abouthow this bureaucratic process aects their daily lie.With the election o Francois Hollande as its presidentthis year, expectations that France will step in to reviveEU leverage over urkey have risen, rst and oremost by unblocking the ve negotiation chapters blocked in 2007 by President Nikolas Sarkozy because he believed urkey didnot belong in Europe. Tis move le urkish democrats andEU institutions with no leverage over Ankara to demandthe implementation o EU political criteria. oday, Parisappears interested in having a more positive relationshipwith Ankara, and President Hollande is set to visit Ankarain early 2013. France is eager to rebuild a policy toward theArab countries where Islamists have taken the prominentleadership positions. France’s “civilizational” snub o urkey would hamper its ambitions towards this geography. In any case, opening the chapters France currently blocks will notopen the oodgates o urkey’s EU accession. From theCyprus problem to eventual ratication o accession by eachEU member state, ample and more legitimate opportunitiesto stall urkey’s membership lie ahead.
3 The EU Commission in its Enlargement Strategy for 2011-2012 published on October
12, 2012
Visa-free travel is possibly thesingle most effective way torejuvenate positive sentiments.
Another possible area o improvement could come romwithin urkey. Te Justice and Development Party campis also showing signs o divergence in EU approaches. Tepresident and the deputy prime minister or economy have recently come out with statements embracing astronger European anchor, while other key gures o theAKP government have taken on a more nationalistic andadversarial tone about the EU. Te main opposition party has both a circle prioritizing EU-orientation, and a skep-tical segment. Tere is a possibility that between the two,the pro-EU rhetoric can be enlivened in the society. Temotivation o multipliers within civil society will also be adetermining actor to this end.Regarding the broader society, visa-ree travel is possibly the single most eective way to rejuvenate positive senti-ments. More people-to-people contacts will be the mosteective way to dispel myths and address mutual prejudices.A ormula that would provide urkish nationals with theopportunity or visa-ree travel in return or urkey meetingconditions related to border control and illegal migrationin order to secure the Schengen border o the EU woulddeliver win-win advantages.
Progress on this ront wasmarked in June 2012 when the EU Council oered urkey a visa liberalization process and the two sides initialed a read-mission agreement. Te next step, to be taken in late 2012or early 2013, is to present to urkey the “visa liberalizationroadmap,” which will list all the conditions that Ankarawill need to meet. Once a roadmap is at hand, urkish civilsociety needs to advocate that Ankara carry out the relevantrequirements, while EU counterparts should hold theirgovernments accountable to sticking to the principles thathave been applied to the Western Balkans on this issue.A central determinant o how urkey will eventually t inis also how the EU evolves. Te prospect o a new model inwhich members have variable integration levels on dierentissues like security, monetary policy, or mobility couldenable urkey to join an “outer circle” that requires lesscohesion and brings less burden to the EU. Although any such remodeling in the EU is bound to be a complicatedand long-term process that cannot be taken or granted, theurkish debate should keep the range o prospects in sight.
Encircling or Seeking Synergy with Turkey?
Te aspiring Western Balkan countries and Eastern Part-nership Neighbors o the EU are also negatively aectedby the EU’s preoccupation with its economic and gover-nance-related challenges. For Western Balkan aspirants,this is seen as a “phase” and not a ate. And “EU aspirant”neighbors across the Black Sea are receiving more encour-agement (than urks) rom EU member state politiciansabout
in Europe. Tere is an Annual EasternPartnership Civil Society Forum – the 4
annual gatheringo which took place in Stockholm on 29-30 November,bringing together representatives o pro-democracy andhuman rights organizations o the six Eastern Partnership(EaP) countries and their counterparts rom EU MemberStates. Within the EaP, sustained dialogue between eachcountry’s NGO community and the Commission is coor-dinated, and NGOs across the region share practices anddevelop partnerships. EU-based oundations and politicalplatorms engage and empower the democrats in thesecountries, transer expertise, monitor and motivate prog-ress, and provide solidarity. Tough separate and dierentin nature, there is even a EU-Russia NGO orum. On theother hand, there is no EU platorm o structured, sustainedengagement or urkish civic actors.Tis situation not only creates a sense o being encircled,driving a perception o hardball in Ankara, but alsodetaches urkish civil society rom the evolution o theEuropeanization dynamics o the Eastern neighborhood.Te potential multipliers o urkey’s Europeanization expe-rience are not utilized and urkish civil society representa-tion in the neighborhood is oen reduced to those whocarry counter-European visions. In the southern neighbor-hood, while urkish business, culture, and political actorsare gaining relative traction, exchange between liberal,democratic civil society to build solidarity or eectively advocate pluralistic solutions in the political sphere remainsweak.

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