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Turkey’s EU Journey: What Next?

Since EU membership negotiations began in 2005, Turkey has faced a range of obstacles, which have led to an impasse in the talks. As a consequence, domestic reforms have slowed, support in the country has dropped as Turks have become increasingly disillusioned with the process, and trust between the two partners has been eroded. Moreover, all this has happened at a time when Turkey has become increasingly self-confident and the EU is suffering from an economic and political malaise. With an economy much stronger than a number of EU member states, and with Ankara playing an increasingly important role on the global stage, many Turks believe that Turkey is better off staying outside the EU. In an effort to rebuild trust the EU has launched a “new positive agenda” that includes taking steps to implement visa liberalization, and a change in leadership in France has also increased hope in a improvement in relations.

Turkey s EU Journey What Next
Members of the European Parliament hold placards in favor of the opening of membership talks with Turkey

While there is no “easy” route to the EU, Turkey’s road has been the most complicated and difficult so far. Beginning over 50 years ago, when Francisco Franco was at the head of a totalitarian regime in Spain and the Berlin Wall had not yet been built, the journey can be described as a story of misperceptions, misunderstandings, prejudices, and irrational expectations. Whether Turkey will eventually join, or whether Ankara is even interested any more, remains an open question. 

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Call for Paper | Politics of the Balkans and Future Perspectives