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Turkey and the “New Europe”: A Bridge Waiting to be Built

In recent years, the EU’s newest members – having identified a number of shared interests that make collaboration between them desirable, if not inevitable – have begun to speak with a single voice on a range of key areas of EU policy. Some of their shared interests have yet to be articulated, however. One of them, and among the most important, is the new member states’ support for future EU enlargement, including Turkey’s EU accession. With Turkey in sore need of an advocate that can make a strong case on behalf of its EU bid, Ankara and the “new Europe” should reassess the importance of their relations, define areas of common interest and intensify cooperation. From the EU-10 perspective, increased cooperation with Turkey promises to deliver positive results in a number of policy areas, including immigration, energy security, trade and foreign affairs.

Turkey and the New Europe A Bridge Waiting to be
Without Turkey’s accession to the EU, European leaders are unlikely to ever consider EU enlargement to Ukraine, a top foreign policy goal for Poland.
 

The past twelve months in particular have seen intensified cooperation among the post-communist countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. These include the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), the countries of Central Europe: the Visegrad Group (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), as well as Slovenia and the Balkans (Bulgaria, Romania). Owing in no small part to their shared experience under communism, the EU-10 members share a broad commonality of interests. There are, of course, differences on some foreign policy issues, as well as a handful of bilateral disputes. With the launch of a series of mini-summits on areas of common concern – initiated by Poland, the largest member of the group – cooperation between the EU-10 has recently acquired a quasi-institutional dimension. Thanks to the mini-summits, consensus has been achieved on issues such as EU climate change legislation, the Eastern Partnership, and steps to tackle the current economic crisis. Support for further EU enlargement – including Turkey’s accession – is another issue where the post-communist countries’ interests and policies are aligned. On this issue, however, the EU-10 have not yet managed to articulate a common stance vis-à-vis their European partners.

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