Out-of-Box Thinking on EU/West-Turkey Relations: Moving Beyond the Accession Framework

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The decades-long accession process with the European Union seems to be ill-suited to help organize Turkey’s relationship with European countries at a time when both Turkey and EU have now been exposed to fundamental challenges, as well as emerging opportunities at the global level. Neither is the EU in a position to offer Turkey credible membership prospects in the near-to-mid term nor the ruling Turkish ruling elites and society alike are determined to join the EU and fulfill the accession criteria along this way. It is now high time that analysts and pundits need to ponder on alternatives institutional structures that would bind Turkey to the western international community in general and the EU in particular on more solid grounds.


At stake is to come up with credible institutional solutions to Turkey’s problematical relationship with the EU through which both Turkey’s European transformation continues unabated at home and abroad and the EU continues to derive clear-cut security, economic and political benefits from cooperating with Turkey. This short essay assumes that Turkey and EU members share many interests in common, yet the existing accession framework falls short of helping them achive those intersts successfully.


The EU seems to have been paralysed amidst many crises at the same time. The Russian revisionism and geopolitical assertiveness in Eastern Europe and the Greater Middle East have already put EU’s post-modern security integration process and identity in jeopardy. The continuing refugee/migration crisis has already worn EU’s economic and human capacity thin. Europeans are ferociously quarrelling among each other as to how to strike the right balance between EU’s multicultural, secular and cosmopolitan values on the one hand and the hard core securiy challenges leveled against EU’s territorial borders and societal cohesion to the east and south on the other. The aftershocks of the latest economic crisis are still being felt across the continent, particularly pitting the well-off northerners against the poor southerners. The result of the referandum to be held in June 2016 on the future relationship of the United Kingdom with the EU is a great unknown and if the Brexit were to become the outcome, the attempts at further integration would be given a serious setback. This might even culminate with the strengthening of micro nationalisms across the whole continent. The heydays of the EU enlargement have already become history as the EU seems no longer to possess the so-called power of attraction in the eyes of the would-be members as well as the countries lying in Europe’s peripheries.


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