Germany's perspectives on Turkey have traditionally exerted substantial influence on EU-Turkey relations as a whole. Since the 2015 refugee crisis, however, Germany's role in EU-Turkey affairs is of a new quality given its leadership position in search for effective instruments to manage irregular migration. With the aim to map tools and types of leadership in Germany's foreign policy, the paper investigates German and EU relations with Turkey with a focus on the recent refugee challenge. Given the contestation among EU actors on a suitable approach to both addressing the crisis and Turkey as a 'key strategic partner', the underlying question is in how far Germany's EU leadership was the result of consensus, institutional facilitation or the lack of alternatives. The paper scrutinises domestic factors relevant for Germany-Turkey relations, i.e. the countries' unique historical, societal and economic ties, their bilateral institutionalised relations and the tensions therein. In a second step, it addresses the question of 'power' by analysing Germany's structural and institutional cooperation and conflict patterns with EU leaders and institutions, as well as common and competing interests. By doing so, the paper brings together a combination of neo-realist and liberal institutionalist parameters as conditioning factors for Germany's leadership, including the institutional veto-players in the EU. Crucially, by unpacking the complex setup in the Ankara-Berlin-Brussels triangle, the paper aims at revealing structural domestic, EU and international push-factors as the trigger for the dissolution of German reluctance to assume a leading, but still not hegemonic position in EU-Turkey relations.
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