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Down to Earth: Turkish Foreign Policy's Return to the EU Track

Csaba Rada

Powered by strong economic growth, Turkey started to gain confidence after 2002 and reinvent itself for the first time after the end of the Cold War. The government gave a new vision of Turkey based on an understanding of its geopolitical location and the concept of Turkish "soft power". However, the Arab Spring showed the limits of Turkish regional influence. In political rhetoric the Turkish leadership toned down the EU track for other foreign policy gains but in reality it never left it. The decreasing Turkish influence and growing economic problems forecasted that the leadership would retune its foreign policy goals, including the return to the EU accession. External and internal political, economic and social constraints contributed to this latest direction adjustment in Turkish foreign policy. The paper will use neo-classical realism as a framework to analyze the influence of systemic constraints and domestic changes on the country's foreign policy. The main aim is to show that both external (losing important MENA partners, external instability, deteriorating relations in the Gulf and Egypt, criticism from US and the EU) and internal factors (growing pressure from the business elite for stabilization and from the society for democratization, the final aim of Westernization is unquestionable part of the Turkish identity, growing financial instability) direct Turkey back to the European track. After the Gezi Park and the latest corruption scandals the decisive factors of the upcoming elections will be democratization , economic stability. These are connected to the EU accession process rather than other foreign policy directions.

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