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The Formation of Turkish Perceptions of the EU in View of New Global and Regional Challenges

Ebru Turhan

Turkey's EU accession process continues in an era of new global and regional challenges. Issues such as Europe's demographic future, the rise of Asian countries, economic and foreign policy-related challenges resulting from the Arab Spring and the Eurozone crisis have been dominating the international political agenda for some time. Particularly, the Eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring have been affecting the EU's foreign policy-making, economic performance, and accordingly its perception by the "Other". This paper seeks to elucidate the formation of Turkish perceptions of the EU and Turkey's EU accession process in view of the Eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring. Has the EU lost its charm in the eyes of the Turkish political elite due to the economic and foreign policy-related implications of the Eurozone crisis for the EU, Turkey's strong economic growth over the past decade and its increasing geopolitical value with the Arab Spring? Or have recent global and regional challenges brought about opportunities for rapprochement between Turkey and the EU? By means of a qualitative discourse analysis, the paper examines the speeches, declarations and press statements of the Turkish state elites since the eruption of the Eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring. While analyzing Turkish perceptions of the EU, attention is also paid to changing Turkish self-perceptions. This paper argues that whereas negative Turkish perceptions of the EU dominated EU-Turkish dialogue following the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis and the Arab Spring, several factors transformed these negative perceptions into more positive ones at a later stage.

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