The Future of The European Union and Turkey Relations

Merve TEYİN*



  European Union and Turkey’s relation going back many years. This relation started in 1959 when Turkey applied to European Economy Community. On this wise communication started the relation between Turkey and Europe. In 1963 Turkey signed to Ankara Agreement with EEC. Turkey became an associate member with the Ankara Agreement[1]. The most important event for Turkey- EU relations took place during the Helsinki Summit in December 1999. There the EU gave Turkey the status of candidate country for EU membership. This was a significant achievement for Turkey.  In 2004 they commenced negotiated about Turkey’s membership[2]. In 2005 Turkey accepted the Accession Partnership document. However, there are some problems between the European Union and Turkey.


    The first and biggest problem is the Cyprus issue. A referendum was held in Cyprus in 2004 about reunite North and Southside of Cyprus. In this referendum Turkish people said ‘’Yes’’ but Greek Cypriot side said ‘’No’’. Turkey had to expand the Customs Union to include the Greek Cypriot side. In order to start new negotiations on becoming a candidate for EU membership, the additional protocol of the Ankara Agreement was approved by new members of the EU - including Cyprus. This protocol will not be going to Turkey's accession process before signing the additional protocol on the one hand and on the other hand, it interfered in the internal affairs of Turkey is a deadlock in foreign affairs. The Republic of Turkey has been forced to recognize the southern part for the lifting of the embargoes imposed on Northern Cyprus. The EU Commission has suspended to the additional protocol for some reason, Since, the membership process of Turkey has been frozen[3].


  The second is France Blockage. France blocked Turkey membership because of opposition to Turkey. More than half of the 33 chapters in Turkey's EU accession negotiations –also including the Cyprus issue-  suspended[4]. Except for these two, there are too many problems with the European Union like Security problems, human rights, the origin of the Turkish people etc.


What is the future of relationships with the European Union?


  What is the outcome of this membership process that started in 1999? When we consider the above-mentioned reasons, the European Union has a very difficult relationship with Turkey. The Syrian civil war was added to these problems. Considering more recent events, the EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn gave an interview and he said that Turkey's membership is not a realistic target,  membership negotiations should be terminated. According to another statement EU Commission spokesman Margaritis SCHINAS, explained that it favors sustainable[5].

  Despite this explanation, the debate continues about alternative proposals cooperation than full membership with Turkey in EU capitals and think tanks. According to Amanda Paul of the European Policy Center in Brussels, the EU majority does not exactly share the same opinion with Hann ready to cut EU plug with Turkey. It is sought as an alternative to Turkey's EU membership process. One of these alternatives is a strategic partnership. In this context, the EU wants to do business with Turkey, they want to have communication within the project, but they do not look forward to membership. In fact, looking at the relations with the EU from the past to the present, this relationship has always looked for an alternative. At the beginning of the 2000s, a ’privileged partnership’ was proposed, the strategic partnership is now a new form of privileged partnership. Moreover, according to the Secretary-General of the European Parliament Turkey Forum Laura Batalla, the EU always brought an alternative to relations with Turkey and that they did not treat as a candidate member to Turkey[6].



 When we consider the perspective of Turkey, Turkey believes that the European Union wasting Turkey’s time. Greece is also an important factor in this process. Greece and insoluble miles problems in the Aegean Sea negatively affect Turkey's EU accession process because some member nations support the continued to relations with Turkey, but some of the member nations argued that this relation is in a stalemate and all members must be withdrawn. Turkey wants to go to a referendum in the country regarding this issue but already the Turkish people have given up on this membership, according to survey results. According to the survey, only 28% of the population wants to enter the EU[7].





  Under the guidance of scenario planning experts, they developed four possible futures for EU-Turkey relations by the end of 2018. Recommendations for different actors were then devised based on these possible futures.


Scenario 1 : Solved Cyprus Issue


 It has reached a solution to the Cyprus conflict and Turkey-will provide a positive framework for eliminating obstacles, former EU relations. Turkish citizens can travel to Europe without a visa and trade is always at their highest level. The refugee agreement improves the domestic situation in the country and its implementation is in good situation.


Scenario 2: Russia Return of Turkey


 In this scenario, Nationalism's victory and Turkey to turn to Russia. Rising nationalism in Europe has led to disintegration and great pressure on EU-Turkey relations was formed. Turkey suffers from a brain drain and unexpectedly turning to Russia.  The result: a new West-East front.


Scenario 3: Isolation of Grim


 Grim isolation of Turkey is the worst-case scenario for Turkey. Rightist tendencies in Europe while increasing feelings of against participation, Turkey, the Kurds after the escalation of the conflict in Syria and Iraq is a more complex state. As a result, there was more tensions between the West and Russia and Turkey.


Scenario 4: EU After Brexit


 Is corrected membership a new opportunity for EU-Turkey relations? It describes a disintegrating Europe after the Brexit. Different membership types are the norm. It offers a new portal to Europe for Turkey[8].


  As analyzes these scenarios, in fact, West's contention that Russia is an event on Turkey still maintains its freshness. The question to be answered at this point is; what are the EU's underlying reasons for not accepting Turkey and also not breaking away; Is it fear of drawing Turkey into Russia's Eastern Bloc completely? If we consider the fact that Russia-Turkey relations lately, it may be a possible cause. There is no concrete explanation for this on the two sides, but if we take into account the scenarios created, there is a high probability of fear.




 Turkey's new foreign policy is also one of the reasons that divide EU members. Turkey, unlike the hard power approach to foreign policy in recent years, emphasized start using soft power. Economic opportunity and peace, has become the driving force of foreign trade, Turkey's trade relations and to greatly expand the Caucasus and the Arab-Israeli dialogue has played the role of facilitator in events such as the peace process. In this opinion having to European countries (Italy and Spain), Turkey's activism in the Middle East is not something to be feared. On the contrary, It shows that clearly- Turkey can be a critical ''asset'' for EU These are the opinions of the countries facing positively to Turkey's membership.


 For other European countries such as Germany and France, precious and healing relationship with Turkey's neighbors does not change the overall picture. The initiatives between the EU and Turkey's strategic objectives, verifying that membership could not be a shortcut. It was stated that the integration process is not a matter of foreign policy but is entirely a commitment to principles and rules - it is a commitment to the Acquis Communitaire - including the adoption of a 'European road' that could ultimately only do it in a foreign way[9].




 As a result, if necessary, to address the current situation in which Turkey and the European Union, we can not talk about Turkey's membership in the near future. If necessary to think long-term, problems with which the European Union and Turkey gained a real solution, if it receives the support of European countries where good relationships, Turkey's membership is more possible in the long-term future however in these two scenarios, there will be a certain share of the Turkish people, but there is not a positive future for the Turkish people who have lost all their faith in the European Union.



*Bolu Abant İzzet Baysal Üniversitesi, Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü, Lisans Öğrencisi 

[1] “IMPORTANT DATES IN TURKISH RELATIONS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION”,Minister of European Union. Access 07 January 2019, https://www.ab.gov.tr/siteimages/2017_08/kronoloji.pdf.


[2] Aksu, Kenan. A Historical  Background to Turkey-Europe Relations. Cambridge Scholars    Publishing. Cambridge, 2012.


[3] “TASAM”. TASAM. Access 07 January 2019. http://www.tasam.org/tr TR/Icerik/2414/turkiye-ab_iliskileri_kapsaminda_kibris_sorunu.


[4] “TEPAV |”. TEPAV. Access 08 January 2019. https://www.tepav.org.tr/tr/haberler/s/3386.

[5] “Türkiye’nin AB geleceği tartışılıyor/ Discussing the future of Turkey with EU”. YENİ ASYA -. Access 12 January 2019. http://www.yeniasya.com.tr/dunya/turkiye-nin-ab-gelecegi-tartisiliyor_478048.


[6] Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. “Stratejik ortaklık mı tam üyelik mi? | DW | 22.11.2018”. Access 12 January 2019. https://www.dw.com/tr/stratejik-ortakl%C4%B1k-m%C4%B1-tam-%C3%BCyelik-mi/a-46412388.


[7] “Does Turkish people want to enter the EU?” turkiyegazetesi.com.tr. Access 12 January 2019. https://www.turkiyegazetesi.com.tr/gundem/216796.aspx.


[8] Mercator, Stıftung. “The Future of Turkey - EU Relations 4 Scenarios for 2018”, 2018. https://www.stiftung-mercator.de/media/downloads/3_Publikationen/The_Future_of_Turkey_EU_Relations.pdf.


[9] Alessandri, Emiliano. “The New Turkish Foreign Policy and the Future of Turkey-EU Relations”. Istituto Affari Internazionali 10 (03 February 2010).


Eklenme tarihi: 18 / 02 / 2020
Haber Okunma: 653

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