Following the establishment of the European Economic Community in 1958, Türkiye’s application in 1959 for partnership with the community paved the way for the European Union (EU) and Türkiye to embark on their relations. Türkiye-EU bilateral relations became official with the Ankara Agreement signed in 1963, which has been the beginning of a process that has survived to today. Different approaches were adopted between the EU and Türkiye during this process, lasting for approximately 60 years. Even though EU-Türkiye diplomatic relations improved during some periods, at certain times they came to the brick of a standstill. Elena Baracani’s EU-Turkey Relations: A New Direction for EU Foreign Policy? provides an insight into the foreign policy of the EU between the years 2014-2019 concerning Türkiye, along with touching on bilateral relations in the light of global politics. Baracani investigates EU foreign policy in the axis of enlargement, the EU’s basic values, migration, and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
The book consists of six chapters. In the first chapter, Baracani provides an outline of the book, along with underlining the fact that she would deal with the political attitudes of the institutional actors and the current structure of the EU toward Türkiye in the period of 2014-2019. Baracani also sheds light on the role of EU institutions in foreign policy and the significance of EU institutions in the decision-making and implementation processes in bilateral relations with Türkiye.
Chapter 2 mostly emphasizes and examines EU-Türkiye relations under two separate subtitles. In the first one, Baracani expresses the sub-texts of the change in the institutional structure of the EU and discusses the issues that the EU had to cope with within the process. Discussing the priorities of the EU, Baracani points out the primary concerns that the EU had to cope with, the main issues consisting of the immigration problem and terrorism, which Europe had to face due to the natural consequence of the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, Brexit as an ultimate triumph of Eurosceptic thinking that has become the dominant element in the European Parliament, the antidemocratic developments in Poland, the economic crises experienced by the EU member states, the tension between Ukraine and Russia, the strained EU-Russia relations with the annexation of the Crimea, the withdrawal of the U.S. from the nuclear energy agreement, the EU-U.S. relations, the Libyan tension and the political ambiguity in Libya. Under the second sub-title, the historical background of Türkiye-EU relations and the developments in Türkiye’s domestic politics are discussed. In this context, the developments in Türkiye’s EU candidacy process were described and the reasons for the suspension were revealed. At this point, the important developments determining Türkiye-EU relations are as follows: Türkiye’s stance on the political situation in Cyprus, the policies and military operations carried out by Türkiye in Northeastern Syria, Türkiye’s energy policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the developments in Türkiye’s internal affairs described as anti-democratic by the EU.
In chapter 3, Baracani discusses the re-establishment of Türkiye-EU relations over the issue of migration under two different headings during the terms of new European Commission President Junker and European Union Enlargement Member Johannes Hahn. Junker, who approached the issue with a pragmatist point of view to ensure cooperation on immigration, considers Türkiye among the one-third safest countries and demonstrates a more moderate stance. Junker also played a key role in the preparation of the EU-Türkiye Joint Action Plan. As for Hahn, the author deals with Hahn’s views on two different axes: before and after the attempted coup in Türkiye in 2016. Hahn, who took a more moderate approach in the pre-coup period, advocated that sanctions should be applied against Türkiye in the post-coup period and that the financial support for refugees should be terminated. In addition, in this chapter, the author reveals with which ambitions Türkiye participated in these negotiations and how the bilateral relations, which saw efforts for reconstruction amid the migration crises, were terminated by the EU.
Next, Baracani, after discussing the relations, meetings, and summits conducted between the Council of Europe and Türkiye, explains the perspective of the Council of Europe toward Türkiye for the solution of a migrant crisis expected to hit Europe. The Council of Europe emphasized the importance of a strategic partnership with Türkiye as a preventative step to avert the migration crisis. In this sense, according to Baracani, Türkiye is an important partner for Europe in resolving the issue. In addition, Angela Merkel’s importance as playing a key role in the talks between the Council of Europe and Türkiye, and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who displayed a positive approach to bilateral relations, is highlighted. Lastly, Baracani concludes this chapter by explaining the reasons behind the strained relations between the Council of Europe and Türkiye, namely Türkiye’s Syria policy and the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In chapter 5, Baracani gathers the views of the European Parliament under two separate headings: before and after the attempted coup in Türkiye. In the pre-coup period, the European Parliament and Parliament President Martin Schulz displayed a more moderate approach toward Türkiye. Indeed, Schulz evaluates Türkiye as an EU candidate country as well as lends importance to Türkiye’s partnership in the migration crisis. However, in the post-coup period, the European Parliament and new Parliament President Antonio Tajani’s view toward Türkiye changed, resulting in an emergence of a negative approach. As a result of this attitude formed by the belief that human rights and democratic order are violated in Türkiye’s domestic politics, Tajani stated that there is no place for Türkiye in the EU unless it undergoes a drastic change. As for the last chapter, Baracani presents a general summary of the book and concludes the text.
This book, which analyzes the EU’s foreign policy between the years 2014-2019 and its relations with Türkiye, contains positive aspects as well as some difficulties and limitations. The work offers rich content on EU foreign policy, with an institutional perspective on the EU. In this sense, it is an important resource for researchers in terms of the structure and functioning of EU institutions, EU law, EU policy and foreign policy, and the EU in the axis of international politics. However, since the book deals with the circumstances from a Eurocentric perspective, the approaches and interpretations are made from a purely European perspective. This approach, unfortunately, ignored Turkey’s stance and determination in the EU-Türkiye relationship and demonstrated Türkiye as a one-sided problem in the EU-Türkiye relations.