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Bringing the European Union Back on the Agenda of Turkish Foreign Policy

The EU has been successfully exercising its conditionality as a key aspect of its enlargement strategy since the 1990s. However, with no accession prospect in sight and the perceived lack of credibility and consistency of the EU’s conditionality, Turkey’s already unequal partnership with Europe has been thrown further off balance. This article argues that this is not the case, as the EU retains its leverage over Turkey, even in the absence of factors that are known as central to the successful implementation of the EU’s conditionality. This article suggests two main reasons. First, despite the rhetoric on the interdependence of Turkish and the EU economy, this interdependence is not on equal footing and the Turkish economy is heavily dependent on the EU. Second, there is rising concern in Turkey over free trade talks between the EU and the United States, with its potential impact on the Turkish economy.

Bringing the European Union Back on the Agenda of Turkish
President of the Turkish Republic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Prime Minister at the time) is welcomed by European Parliament President Martin Schulz prior to a meeting at the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 21, 2014. EPA / Julien
 

Introduction

At the time of Turkey’s membership application to the European Community in 1987, Turkey’s then prime minister (later president) Turgut Özal, said, “we are in a long and narrow path.” No doubt, the late president’s analogy proved correct, though the path seems to be getting longer and narrower, with no accession prospect in sight. In addition, the EU’s fine-tuned strategy of conditionality, a key aspect of its enlargement policy, has lost its credibility and consistency in the eyes of both Turkish officials and public opinion.

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