Turkish Journal of International Relations

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Volume 1, Number 3, Fall 2002


Human Rights and Democracy Promotion: The Case of Turkey-EU Relations
By Saban Kardas



On 3 August 2002, the Turkish Parliament approved an 14-article package of legislation drafted to harmonise the country’s laws with those of the European Union, which included abolishing the death penalty in peacetime, granting the right to conduct broadcasting and education in languages other than Turkish, increasing the rights for the religious minorities, and easing press restrictions. The intention in this article is to discuss latest constitutional amendments undertaken by Turkey as part of its commitments in the National Program to satisfy the conditions set by the EU, and raise the case for a revision in the EU’s current policy toward Turkey. By contextualizing these developments within the wider debate about the EU’s use of political conditionality in support of its democracy and human rights promotion policies, I contend that the achievements so far indicate that political conditionality is working and has contributed substantially to the liberalization of Turkish political system. On the other hand, the very logic of following a democracy promotion policy brings the EU under a special responsibility and obliges it to respond to Turkey’s move and take the next step -the ball is in the EU’s court. Moreover, given the current state of affairs in Turkish foreign and domestic policy on the one hand, and the possible implications of the upcoming eastern enlargement on the other, a policy carefully-drafted and responsive enough to Turkey’s demands assumes an added urgency and leaves no place for maintaining the current ambiguity characterizing the relations.

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