Posts Tagged ‘EU’

Excerpt from Ziya Onis (2009) “Contesting for the ‘Center’: Domestic Politics, Identity Conflicts and The Controversy over EU Membership in Turkey”, Bilgi University European Institute Working Paper No: 2 EU/2/2010, [online]: http://eu.bilgi.edu.tr/docs/working%20paper2_101209.pdf

The current constitutional crisis in the EU may ironically create an opportunity space for Turkey. Clearly what is at stake in the constitutional debate is the future direction of the European project. If the outcome of the constitutional crisis is the development of the EU more in the direction of what Jan Zielonka calls a loosely structured “medieval empire”, which is broadly consistent with the British vision rather than the kind of deep integration project favored by the French, this will naturally embody very significant implications for the future place of Turkey in the European context. If the future path of the EU involves a British style integration process of a relatively loose, intergovernmental Europe with relatively flexible boundaries which allows significant scope for national autonomy, the prospects for Turkish accession will be considerably improved. In contrast, if the dominant style of integration is based on the French project of deep integration- the idea of Europe as a “place” with fixed boundaries as opposed to a flexible “space”-the natural inclination will be to include Turkey as an “important outsider” rather than a “natural insider” in a special partnership style arrangement. Our interpretation of the current constitutional impasse in Europe having reached a peak with the negative vote in Irish referendum of June 2008 is that the dominant tendency in the foreseeable future is likely to be the first scenario of flexible integration which clearly constitutes a development in Turkey’s favor.

What we increasingly observe in the current era is the emergence of an implicit broad and mutually reinforcing coalition for “special partnership”, which seems to be deeply rooted, but for rather different reasons, both in the European and Turkish contexts. This constitutes a significant danger from the point of Turkey’s full-membership prospects. The proponents of Turkish membership both at home and abroad appear to be increasingly less vocal and enthusiastic compared to their Turko-skeptic and Euro-skeptic counterparts. The retreat to “loose Europeanization” certainly does not signify the abandonment of the Europeanization project altogether. What it means, however, is that the EU will no longer be at the center-stage of Turkey’s external relations or foreign policy efforts. This, in turn, is likely to have dramatic repercussions for the depth and intensity of the democratization process in Turkey especially in key areas such as a complete reordering of military-civilian relations, an extension of minority rights and a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem, as well as counteracting the deeply embedded problem of gender inequality. There exist key elements within the Turkish state and Turkish society, which would be quite content with the loose Europeanization solution given the perceived threats posed by a combination of deep Europeanization and deep democratization for national sovereignty and political stability. The fears of deep Europeanization are not simply confined to the defensive nationalist camp. There also exists considerable conservatism even in the much more globally oriented AKP circles, when it comes to deep democratization agenda, as it is clearly evident from the resistance to the repealing of the article 301 of the penal code.

A final question to raise in this context is whether the drift towards loose Europeanization is likely to be reversed. The likelihood of a major reversal in the immediate term appears to be rather low. From a longer-term perspective, two possibly mutually reinforcing developments may facilitate a renewed impetus to the deep Europeanization agenda. The first element of such a scenario would involve a new enlargement wave in Europe, which would incorporate the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Turkey as a country, which has already reached the point of accession negotiations will not be immune to such a process. The second element of such a scenario would involve the emergence of a strong counter-movement from the more liberal and Western-oriented segments of the Turkish society, who will place Europeanization and reform firmly on its political agenda.


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George Christou is an Associate Lecturer in European Politics, Department of Politics and international Studies, University of Warwick, UK, and has previously held positions as: a Research Associate at the Centre for Public Policy, Northumbria University, UK (2004-5); a Research Associate at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK (2003-4); and as a Lecturer in European Politics at the Department of Government, University of Manchester (2001-3). His main research interests include: the EU’s role in conflict resolution/transformation, with specific interest in Cyprus and more recently, the frozen conflicts in the eastern neighbourhood ; the EU’s policies towards the Eastern Neighbourhood (European Neighbourhood Policy, Eastern Partnership etc); the EU as an actor in Internet Governance and the political economy of European and Global Internet Governance. His main research monographs (books) include: ‘The New Electronic Market Place: European Governance Strategies in a Globalising Economy’ (Edward Elgar, 2007); ‘The European Union and Enlargement: The Case of Cyprus’, (Basingstoke: MacMillan-Palgrave, 2004). He has also published in journals such as Governance, Journal of Public Policy, International Spectator and has articles forthcoming in Political Geography (2010), Geopolitics (2009) and Cooperation and Conflict (2010). He is currently working as part of a Warwick team (led by Prof. Stuart Croft) on a three year EU-funded FP7 project on the European Union as a Global-Regional Actor in Peace and Security (EU-GRASP).  He is also editing a Special Issue of the journal ‘European Security’ on EU Security Governance.

CT: Could you tell us a bit about your recent/forthcoming publications?

GC: My research interests have several dimensions, one of which is the EU’s impact on the Cyprus conflict. Most recent and forthcoming publications on this include:

Christou G (2004), ‘The European Union and Enlargement: The Case of Cyprus’, Basingstoke: Palgrave-MacMillan

Christou G (2006), The European Union: What Role in The Cyprus Conflict’, International Spectator, No.2, June 2006

Christou G, (2010, forthcoming), ‘The European Union, Borders and Conflict Transformation: The Case of Cyprus’, Cooperation and Conflict, Vol.45, No.1

Work in progress on the EU and Cyprus includes:

‘The European Commission as an Actor in the Cyprus Conflict’, Paper presented at the BISA Annual Conference, Leicester, 14-16 December 2009

CT: What are the potential limitations of the existing analyses on the EU’s role in Cyprus conflict, in your opinion? Could you suggest any gaps in the literature or any potential pitfalls?

GC: There has been a proliferation of work on the EU’s role in the Cyprus conflict in recent years.  A potential gap that exists in the current literature is the lack of attention in conceptualising or theorising the strategies employed by the local conflict actors in Cyprus and the impact this has on the ability of the EU to actually transform the conflict border. Although much of the literature has investigated conflict actor perceptions and the domestic politics of the Cyprus dispute as well as how Cypriots actors have interpreted and utilised EU norms, there is room for a more nuanced analysis of the co-constitution of conflict borders, the nature of these borders and the strategies employed by conflict actors.

CTCould you suggest any Turkey-focused research you’ve found valuable?

GC: Most recent Turkey-focused research that I have found useful and interesting from my own personal research perspective includes:


Owen Parker, (2009) ‘Cosmopolitan Europe’ and the EU-Turkey question: the politics of a ‘common destiny’, Journal of European Public Policy, 16 (7), Oct 2009: 1085-1101

Baban, F and Keyman F, (2008) ‘Turkey and the Postnational Europe: challenges for the cosmopolitan political community’,  European Journal of Social Theory, 11 (1): 107-24

Diez, T. (2007), ‘Expanding Europe: The ethics of EU-Turkey relations’, Ethics and International Affairs, 21 (4): 415-22


Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, Trials of Europeanization: Turkish Political Culture and the European Union, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

Dietrich Jung and Catharina Raudvere (eds.), Religion, politics, and Turkey’s EU Accession, Palgrave MacMillan, 2008

Natalie Tocci (ed.) ‘Talking Turkey in Europe: Towards a Differentiated Communication Strategy’, (available on the Istituto Affari Internazionali website: http://www.iai.it/)

Joseph S. Joseph (ed.), Turkey and the European Union: Internal Dynamics and External Challenges, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author/s who retain the copyright.

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Extracted from Meliha Benli Altunisik, “The Turkish Model and Democratization in the Middle East”, Arab Studies Quarterly, Winter-Spring 2005.

…it is clear that Turkey has the assets and the will to act as a soft power in the issue of political reform in the Middle East. However, in order to play this role, Turkey should also have credibility. Does Turkey have the credibility to be accepted as a soft power? Turkey was considered as a model in the Islamic world in the early twentieth century for it was the only successor state of the Ottoman Empire, which “succeeded in rebuffing the newly emerging international system, and in fashioning its own destiny.” (53) Furthermore, its project of modernization, including secularization, also became a source of inspiration for many. However, due to the rewriting of history along nationalist lines, Cold War rivalries, and the rise of political Islam, Turkey lost its soft power. Turkey’s lack of expertise in the Middle East further contributed to the emergence of an essentialist and simplistic analyses of the Turkish experience.

However, Arab views of Turkey have begun to evolve in a more positive way recently. (54) In Particular, the coming to power of the AKP, increasing external pressures for political reform and a deepening sense of crisis forced the Arab world to revisit Turkey in a more attentive way. Several Arab commentators began to perceive the “Turkish experiment,” the democratic system that allowed the AKP to come to power and transform itself into a party that supports secularism, as “important and successful.” (55) Thus, Turkish democracy was increasingly seen as genuine, not a facade. (56) At the Congress of Democrats from the Islamic world in Istanbul a former Yemeni foreign minister summed up this view: “It was a conscious choice to hold this meeting in Turkey. The (Turkish) Islamic movement embraced the secular state. This new experience in Turkey is a model for all Muslim countries.” (57)

Finally, the Turkey-EU process has become an interesting case for many Arab reformers as well as a test case to see whether the EU would incorporate a Muslim country or refuse it because of cultural differences.

Despite the increasing credibility of Turkey as a soft power there remain two important challenges to the Turkish model. The first challenge concerns the ongoing experiment with the AKP government. The AKP has so far acted pragmatically and avoided crises. The continuing success of this experiment would be necessary for Turkey to project itself as a soft power. Similarly, the future of the Turkey-EU process will have an important bearing. Any crisis in this process will not only diminish the attraction of the Turkish experience, but more importantly could stall and even reverse Turkey’s political reform process.


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EU_Turkey_flagBy Baris Gulmez

Turkish EU membership quest is in trouble

Turkey has been striving to become an EU member for more than 40 years. During the last five years, the Turkish government led by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) took considerable steps to comply with the “acquis communautaire » (the body of rules, laws ans general approach). Yet the EU has still not given Turkey a clear membership timetable.

There remains considerable scepticism about Turkey’s entry.
Statements opposing Turkey’s membership used to come from European politicians such as Valery Giscard d’Estaing, former French President. However, now the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have openly declared their opposition to Turkey’s EU membership. They claim that Turkey is not a European country. France introduced a Constitutional amendment in 2005 to conduct a referendum concerning the EU enlargement. Therefore, even if a candidate state complies with the “”acquis communautarie, it won’t become an EU member if ther is a “Non” in a French referendum. It is no secret that this amendment was passed with Turkey’s membership in particular in mind.

Moreover, the European Commission and the Council put forward previously unheard expressions and terms in respect of Turkey such as open-ended process, absorption capacity and permanent safeguard clauses. The phrase “open-ended process” suggests that the accession negotiation process does not guarantee automatic membership for Turkey. The “absorption capacity” of the EU argues the membership might not be possible for Turkey even if it fulfils the “acquis communautarie”, since the EU’s social, economic and political climate might not be ripe for Turkey’s membership. Finally the phrase; “long transition periods, derogations, specific arrangements or permanent safeguard clauses”, implies that freedom of movement of persons, structural policies and agriculture might be permanently barred to Turkey even if it becomes an EU member.

This reflects public opinion. The 2006-2007 Eurobarometer results show 59% of EU citizens are against Turkish entry to the EU while only 28% showed willingness to accept Turkey as an EU member. Austria, where the far right recently made gains, is the state to oppose Turkish membership the most with 81%. Romania is the most eager country to see Turkey as a member with 66% support.

The main reasons behind the unwillingness for Turkey are said to be: Turkey is a Muslim country, a neighbour to the conflicting regions such as Middle East, overpopulated and poor.

Concerns over the borders and population of Turkey have some validity. Turkey is located on the crossroads of conflict areas – the Balkans, Middle East and Caucuses. Hence, providing stability to these areas could not only fall on Turkey’s shoulders but also on the EU. The EU might have to harden its immigration policy to deal with a potential massive flow of refugees from these regions.

With more than 70 million, Turkey would have the second largest population in the EU after Germany. Moreover, Turkish population will reach 80 million in the near future, while the EU’s population will continue to decrease. This would certainly have repercussions for the EU in future. Turkey would directly affect the decision-making mechanism of the EU having most of the seats in the European Parliament and more representatives in the Commission. Besides. More employment for Turkish citizens in the EU states could mean higher unemployment for the nationals of current member states in difficult economic times (as well as a source of cheaper labour in better times).

In addition to the above arguments, Turkey has its own troubles. A highly volatile political agenda in Turkey hampers political stability in the country. The “closure case” of the Turkey’s ruling party described previously in Defence Viewpoints, and corruption allegations against some of its officials, overshadow the credibility of the government, while the historicly strong influence of the top army officials in politics damages the smooth functioning of Turkish democracy.

Finally, the Cyprus problem continues to bar Turkish hopes of EU membership. By failing to open its airspace and harbours to Cyprus, an EU member; Turkey faces problems in accession negotiations in eight chapters. The Cyprus problem also affects transatlantic cooperation negatively. Cyprus is a non-NATO EU member and Turkey is a non-EU NATO member; and the ongoing Cyprus problem prompts both states to deny recognition of each other. Therefore, both states tend to block important negotiations between the EU and NATO by preventing each other from taking part in crucial security meetings.

Taking into account all these factors, it is obvious that there are significant issues with Turkey within the EU and to some extent these are reasonable. Nevertheless, from a different perspective, the EU might find Turkey as a member to be an invaluable asset.

The ESDP: quest for political Union for the EU?

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has been one of the most important steps taken by the EU in order to become a Union as a whole. Free from Communist threat, the post-Cold War era gave Europeans more impetus to establish an efficient military capacity independent of the United States. In particular, France and Germany aspired to a political union and in this respect, the role of security and defence was crucial. Sticking to its historical notion of being a bridge between the two sides of Atlantic, the UK consented to this idea but remained sceptical about its potential to undermine NATO.

The ESDP however is far from reaching “a capacity for autonomous action” outlined in St Malo, 1998. As the Kosovo crisis indicated, the EU lacks the capability to prevent a large scale security crisis. In financial terms, most of the ESDP operations are implemented with recourse to NATO assets. Only in Congo, led by France, has the EU not resorted to NATO resources to conduct operations. Apart from physical capacity, the EU also lacks the political capability since there is no unified voice within the EU to take critical or urgent decisions.

As a remedy to concerns about potentrial political damage to NATO, non-military measures called “Petersberg tasks” such as humanitarian and peacekeeping operations and crisis management were added to the functions of the ESDP. Although some might claim that this enabled the ESDP to survive; in fact non-military functions endanger the military identity of the ESDP. Only 4 out of 14 ESDP operations to date have been of a military nature, which mostly have been peace keeping duties handed over by either NATO or the UN. When it comes to much bigger military issues, the EU avoids taking strategic responsibility and still depends on the NATO to do its “dirty work”.

Failing to develop physical and political capabilities to satisfy the high expectations, the EU can hardly be defined as a political actor in world politics.

Turkey as a remedy for EU’s military capability problem?

Having more than 1 million troops (including reserves), Turkey has the 8th biggest army in the world and 2nd biggest in NATO (the biggest in Europe). Planning a massive upgrade of its inventories since 1998, Turkey has to date invested more than US$30 billion in modernization programmes. It is one of the major contributors to the Joint Strike Fighter programme spearheaded by the US. In 2008, Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) spent more than US$3 billion on equipment purchases in Europe.

Turkey has the capability to deploy troops outside its borders. It has participated in numerous military missions under the command of the UN and NATO, such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and former Yugoslavia. At present only the UK and France stand out as the only EU member states having the capability to conduct military operations outside Europe; the deployable capability of the TSK might greatly contribute to the EU.

Fighting against PKK terrorism in South-eastern Anatolia since early 1980s, Turkey has been able to develop a very experienced and well-trained army. This could assist the EU to improve its capability to fight against terrorism.

Given its military capability, Turkey would be an invaluable asset for the EU to fill the capability-expectations gap in its security and defence policy. Aspirations for the achievement of a “capacity for autonomous action” could be realized and the international political influence of the EU thus increase. As the member of both NATO and the EU, Turkey would definitely play a major role in healthy transatlantic relations.

But Turkey would obviously be a challenge to the dominance of the UK and France in the EU security structure. However, member states favouring soft power rather than hard power of the EU such as Sweden and Finland could be concerned about an increase in the military capability with this magnitude. The rather apt cliché about Turkey; “the Trojan Horse of the US” might be revived under the pretext that Turkey would change the EU’s understanding of security and use of force, and render them closer to that of the US.

Nevertheless, Turkey’s contribution to the EU capability in security and defence would add significantly to the political might of the EU, which it has been striving to achieve for years. To achieve this, Turkey must work hard to render the scepticism irrelevant, firstly by developing its economy and achieving political stability. It must also develop its tourism sector in order to enable more EU nationals to visit, learn and enjoy Turkey. It should even provide scholarships to EU nationals at Turkish universities.+

On the other hand, the EU should wake up to the advantages of Turkish membership rather than focusing on the disadvantages. Despite all its drawbacks, Turkey might constitute the major component to enable the EU to become a political power which “punches its weight”.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author/s who retain the copyright.=

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