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Strategies of Turkish Political Elites during the Accession Negotiations: Conformity or Deviance?

Kadri Renda

Adapting Robert K. Merton's typology of deviance to the Europeanization literature in general and in particular tothe case of Turkey, I categorize elite behaviour into four groups: conformist, ritualist, innovator, andretreatist/rebel. In this paper, I primarily focus on the innovator type. Drawing on Merton's ideas, I argue thatpolitical elites as innovators accept European norms and values, or rather Europeanization, yet they dislike themeans, i.e. political conditionality, and in the case of Turkish politicians take issue with the burdensome'open-ended' process of accession negotiations. For this reason, this group of politicians, who are neitherEuropeanist nor Anti-Europeanist, pursue several strategies during the accession negotiations. Their strategiesare: i) placing more emphasis on bilateral relationships with influential member states of the EU; ii) developingpersonal relationships with the leaders of member states; iii) asking for third party intervention or externalpressure on member states; iv) enhancing the strategic importance of their country in the eyes of the EU memberstates through diversification of their policies; v) utilizing different narratives of history and developing differentrepresentations of geography. In this paper, I mainly discuss the last two strategies of innovators. The main unit ofanalysis is the speeches given by state elites which include top statesmen such as prime ministers, presidentsand foreign ministers. I also conduct interviews with some parliamentarians from both ruling and opposition partyand with diplomats in Ankara.

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