CIAO DATE: 01/07

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Volume 4, Number 3, Fall 2005


Turkey's Uncertain Place in the EU
By Leda-Agapi Glyptis



The ‘civilisational argument’ regarding why Turkey wants to join the EU is dismissed by many Western scholars as trite. And yet they could not be more wrong.

This paper is premised on the axiom that the main reason why Turkey wants to join the EU is its desire to be accepted as an equal by the Western civilisation complex. Looking at the EU’s essentialist language, on the one hand, and the Copenhagen ‘objective’ criteria on the other, I will assess ‘what it takes’ for Turkey to join. I will look at how Turkey is faring against the list of reforms expected of it and at why the EU is still deliberating Turkey’s candidacy: have they changed their mind or is elective affinity part of the equation?

The answer to this question is vital for Turkey on two levels. On the one hand, if you want to be wanted then subjective criteria matter more than objective ones. On the other hand, however, for Turkey to finally make the transition necessary, legal and institutional reforms have to be coupled with a fundamental normative transformation that may affect the core of the very ideological position that sought Western acceptance in the first place. Until the EU makes it clear that Turkey’s candidacy will depend on objective criteria alone, Turkey cannot take the next and final step in its reform process, which entails a normative transformation of the driving values of Turkey’s political system.

As this is a state-led process, I will mainly look at government statements and official sources. Although the civil society movement in Turkey is lively and largely committed to the EU effort, it is the government that spearheads the process and hence I will focus analytically on government initiatives.

Full Text (PDF, 32 Pages, 253 KB)