The EU and Turkey: Norms or Geostrategy?

Natalie Martin

The EU's need for Turkish cooperation on security issues is as high as it has ever been. Not only is the EU dealing with the acute issues of migration and foreign policy/counter terrorism (ISIS), it has the underlying issues of energy security and matters of justice and home affairs to take into consideration as well. All require a high level of cogent cooperation from the Turkish government. This has historically been secured with the promise of accession "progress" into the EU.However the Turkey-EU relationship has reached stalemate because of residual member state opposition and the illiberal nature of current Turkish democracy. Ankara shows no sign of implementing constitutional change in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria. Day to day freedoms of expression, protest and the news media are heavily curtailed and the rule of law compromised by the Ergenekon/Balyoz investigations and the Kurdish issue. Hence the EU cannot meaningfully offer accession progress and is "rhetorically entrapped" by its previous insistence on the Copenhagen criteria.However, it increasingly seems the European Union will need to choose between its principles, which have formed the core of its liberal democratic identity, and raw security need in the case of Turkey. This paper analyses the EU's interactions with Ankara in the face of the Syrian civil war and migration crises 2013-2015. Taking a qualitative, process-tracing, approach and a Normative Institutionalist theoretical framework, it assesses the implications of these events for Turkey-EU relations going forward - and the EU itself.

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