Kısa, Orta ve Uzun vadede AB Türkiye İlişkileri

By AB Genişleme Politikası

Mutual distrust and interdependency, mix of conflict and cooperation are terms which have characterized  Turkey’s  relations with the Eu  for decades.

I have now been asked to look into my  crystal ball and talk about possible scenarios for Turkey in respect to its accession to the EU. Modelling scenarios can only rest on assumptions, on determining a time period for which the analysis will be valid.  These scenarios  need also be concomitant to those valid for the EU but one must also be reminded that scenario building  in a context of flux and uncertainty is not easy.

  1. I. Let us start with the short run, that is for this year and the coming year.  When we look at Turkey and try to describe what characterizes policies conducted three terms come to mind  mind:

Reshaping:  reshaping  the army, the judiciary system, the bureaucracy, the media, the NGO s  and now the educational system so that it will fit  the identity of the new Turkey that the present government wishes to build.

Boosting : to boost economic growth the government has made appeal to financial measure as yet never used. The government has expanded a credit guarantee fund guaranteeing loans banks write to businesses. This has been followed by large private credit expansion at the same time as the government continues its huge infrastructure projects, building roads, hospitals, subways and high-speed rail. Shot of steroids will continue with the use of the wealth fund when the effects of the credit guarantee fund will have worn out.

Shifting: Shifting of axis in foreign policy. Turkish foreign policy to-day  displays a fundamentally different pattern compared to previous governments. Shifting of axis is followed by what I would also call having now a loose anchor, having an erratic compass . We now drift away from the West, but at the same times messages sent are that we will not pull the  plug out. We focus ourselves to our  Muslim Middle Eastern neighbors but alienate ourselves from them by interfering in their domesitc affairs , talk of our belonging to the BRIC (Brazil, India, Russia, and China) countries , discuss becoming members of the Shanghai group. Drifting  back and forth in our narrative is never constructive. Foreign policy in Turkey is concentrated mostly on Syria, the PKK the Ydp and ISIS and keeping our borders safe.

When we look at the present state of the EU we see that the impact of the rise of nationalism, xenophobia and racism has caused a shift in member countries public opinion towards further enlargement.The geopolitical situation in the Middle East and North Africa which is driving millions of people from their homes causing millions to be displaced, seeking asylum causes fears and ends up with talks about border closure. Turkey is being viewed as a buffer zone between a supposedly peaceful EU and a crise ridden Middle East. The EU is also faced with  successive internal crises, crises  which started long ago such as the  rejection of the constitution, the eurozone crisis, the possibility of Grexit, the refugee crise, Brexit and rise of illiberal democratic tendencies  in some member countries  which causes fatigue and unwillingness in dealing with others desires

Under these circumstances  that is in the short run there can only be  growing enstrangement in the relations between the Eu and Turkey.  Enlargement can only be shelved. Members such as Portugal, Spain,  and Italy who were supporters of Turkey  are now mostly concerned about  recovering from the economic crise, the UK who was a fervent supporter of Turkey has during their referendum campaign  done a permanent volte face, northern member states Sweeden, Finland who had also supported Turkey now view negatively the democratic backsliding of Turkey . The new alliance built with Russia causes fear in the Balkans. The result is a strengthening of the  anti Turkey constituency.

In the short run I see no chance of any new dialogue between the EU and Turkey but I also think it unlikely that the EU will suspend the accession process….except if there is a reinstatement of the death penalty…

  1. II: What about the  medium term that is from 2019 to 2023

All will depend on the form the EU will have, on how the Brexit deal will have taken shape, on the turn  domestic and foreign policy in Turkey will have taken and how public opinion both in the Eu and in Turkey will view impending relations. If scepticism and opposition towards Turkey’s EU accession is still strong, there will be little chance for full accession. If in Turkey concerns over national sovereignty, fear of loss of moral values, discrimination on religious grounds and fear of territorial partition continues to be the main drivers of euroscepticism in Turkey, dialogue will be at a stand still.

If no full membership is in the agenda the  alternative could be what the Germans called a priviledged parnership,or  a form of associate membership In the political arena, no longer anchored to the EU, Turkey will be left to do what it wants. Depending on who would have won the elections in 2019 Turkey will have either moved to a full presidential system or a move back to a more democratic form of government which then would allow for new dialogues. Ties on the economic front will be strong , the customs union agreement will be renewed and modernized , Turkey would continue to be a strategic country for the EU for security and energy route reasons.

This medium term scenario would lead Turkey to move even more away from Europe. A divorce is more than painful whatever the settlement.

  1. III. As to the  long term, that is 25 to 50 years from now, what can I say. Most probably most of us who are here present  will not be there to see it….

Turabder’in Uluslararası Avrupa Hareketi’nin Batı Balkanlar ve Türkiye ile ilgili Genişleme Süreci Sorularına Yanıtları

By AB Genişleme Politikası

Enlargement Consultations

Political Committee “Europe in the World”

In order to update EMI Policy Position on Enlargement, well in advance of the annual Progress Reports that will be presented by the European Commission in the autumn, European Movement int has sent us a questionnaire with a couple of stimulating questions regarding our enlargement-views. This process is also a follow-up to the EMI Belgrade Congress held in February 2016 and is connected to EMI’s work ahead of the Civil Society Forum in the framework of the Berlin process (intergovernmental process on topics not treated by the enlargement negotiations with the Balkan countries to the EU; Paris, July 2016). The questions asked and our answers were as follows:

  1. Please give your opinion and remarks on the current developments, progress as well as points of concern for the individual (potential) candidate countries you wish to comment upon:

Montenegro (negotiations ongoing): …should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years. ……………………………………………….

Serbia (negotiations ongoing): … should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years. ……………………………………………….……………………………………………….

Turkey (negotiations ongoing): …Ongoing negotiations should be more rapid. Chapters 23 and 24 should never have been blocked. I f they had been opened 10 years ago instead of those of an economic character we would be facing a different Turkey to-day……………………………………………….

Albania (negotiations yet to be opened): negotiations should be opened

FYR of Macedonia (negotiations yet to be opened): negotiations should be opened.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (potential candidate): should become a member as soon as possible without having to wait five years.

Kosovo (potential candidate): negotiations should be started

 2. What mechanisms should be applied or fostered to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation among CSOs in the WBT (Western Balkans and Turkey) cooperation? 1. The procedures of Civil Society Facility Programme of Western Balkans can be simplified as it is the case in Turkey. “Sivil Düşün” model can be applied in the region at large 2.The system has to force civil society organisations to come up with  new  ideas to generate fruitful cooperation and not only to organize standard trainings and workshops. 3. EU’s Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organizations (TACSO) has relatively worked well. And its working model can be duplicated in each targeted countries through local ownerships after the project ends 4. In addition to promote bilateral and multilateral promotion of CSOs in WB and Turkey, the mechanisms related to civil society-public sector should be enforced. 5. More flexible and less hierarchical structures should exist, especially among youth organizations. 6.New mechanisms should be developed to facilitate regional cooperation.

3. What are the difficulties civil society faces when it comes to providing real input for the negotiation process? The problem is common to almost all applicants and some member countries. 1. Learning about the decisions taken takes place only after these decisions have been made. 2. Representatives of civil society are not part of the decision making process. It is hard for CSOs to get heard by governments. They do not participate in any of the official meetings 3. Consultative meetings held by these representatives end up with conclusions listed in a short resume which is usually not taken into consideration by the decision makers 4. These organizations need to develop their knowledge about the details involved in the chapters discussed or to be discussed.

4. What are the dangers and problems you currently identify in the Western Balkans, which (could) negatively affect the enlargement process? 1.  The EU is presently engulfed in political, economic and social crises which have led to a larger distrust of EU members and applicants vis a vis EU institutions (the Parliament as well as the Commission). 2. Conflicts between neighbor countries as well domestic problems within these applicants slow down their progress in abiding to the EU values and to the acquis 3. Rise of right wing ultra nationalist parties, governments becoming more protection oriented, more totalitarian and conservative hampers regionalization and internationalization endangers enlargement.

5. What currently jeopardizes / can potentially jeopardize the enlargement process, both from the EU and WBT front? I.  External shocks could jeopardize this process. The world economy is not faring well and an external shock such as that could cause the EU members to face difficulties which would have its impact on applicant countries too. II. Internal shock:   A Brexit followed by other countries could lead to lower trust in the EU with the result that applicant countries and member countries would prefer to slow down even more the enlargement process.

6. How could (potential) candidate countries be included in a sustainable European solution to the migrant and refugee crisis? This is a problem which the EU will not be able to solve on its own. 1. On Foreign policy issues the EU is not capable of producing a union level response to which all members would subscribe. The EU cannot formulate constructive policies. 2. The rise of extreme right wing parties backed up by ultra nationalist civil society organizations will also hamper the possibility of finding such a sustainable solution. This is quite unfortunate but we think it reflects the reality. 3. But in spite of this, civil society organizations could and should play a role in helping migrants who have reached their countries by ensuring their safety and their rights. 4. Those applicant and member countries mostly affected by this crisis should be monitored and helped. 5. Migrant and refugee rights promoting NGOs should be supported to form linkages with one another.

7. Where should the EU stand in the enlargement narrative in face of the crises it is struggling with? Nothing is sure for the upcoming two years. No prospects of further enlargement can exist under these conditions. Yet this does not mean that nothing should be done. 1. The EU should go beyond acquis conditionality by being more proactive in dealing with the domestic problems in applicant countries. 2. Discontent about good governance which is also a problem in some member countries should be addressed. 3. The EU should also be more informative about what is expected when negotiating different chapters. Organize meetings with related CSOs and discuss with them what will be faced in their country, what has been faced in member countries so that there will not be any after shocks during their applications. 4. Pre-accession policies should be improved so that there will be no discrepancies between implementing EU rules which are uniform for all and what is in application in the various sectors of the applicants. This would help anticipate and solve the problems that might arise if there is any important mismatches. 5. Control of preaccesion funds is another issue. 6. Finally given that EU is the only plausible peace solution in the current state affairs, it should create a positive enlargement narrative right away and impose sanctions on countries which actually do hurt this positive narrative. The  rhetoric in countries such as Hungary and Serbia should especially be changed.

8. What impact do you think the next enlargement will have on:

The (potential) candidate countries: 1. it will force them to have better entente with one           another, be more democratic, more respectful of human rights& freedom of the press. 2. The EU is still the only regional organization that carries a promise for peace and stability. Its effect on candidate countries is normative. 

The current EU Member States 1. Since these members have small economies the impact of their economic integration on member countries will not be detrimental. They will be easily   absorbed. 2. But addressing the needs of the looser of            this economic integration will also             be an   important policy issue. The political disorders which may then ensue among members will be         more difficult to solve by the EU. 4. Backsliding in the application of fundamental      values if any will be difficult to control as it has already been see in some member countries. EU             member states should stop thinking short term and go back to the European       value system   where prevalence and strength of democracy goes unquestioned and is promoted. 

9. How could the momentum for the enlargement process be regained? (remarks are welcome both with regard to the EU and the WBT) How to make Europe a project worth fighting for? Difficult in these times but still possible. In the WBT: 1. The EU should work hand in hand with CSOs irrespective of their political allegiance and help them organize meetings with university students, high school students even primary school students. 2. Young people of applicant countries should get to meet young pro European young people from member countries.   In the EU 1. The  EU should be reminded that long-term thinking and policies are its  defining characteristics, characteristics which distinguishes it from other organizations. 2. Pro European CSOs should be more active. Should develop branches in all their regions. Should not work like CSOs for retired people and should enroll more young people.

10. In the Serbian Congress report, especially in the part on Word Café conclusions, you can see a wish list of Balkan CSOs. Is there anything else you would identify as the urgent needs of Civil Society Organisations in the context of the enlargement process? Get more interaction between CSOs , find the financial means to get them together, otherwise what as accomplished in World Cafe was great.


Hayaller ve Gerçeklerle Yüzyüze.

By AB Genişleme Politikası

Sitemiz açılmadan önce verilmiş bir sözü yerine getirmem gerektiğinde bu blogu Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)  için yazmiştım. Kendilerine atıfta bulunmam şartıyla kendi sitemizde yayınlanması konusunda anlaştık. Yazım kendi sitelerinde aşağıdaki bağlantıdan ulaşılabilir:

Yazının kendisi ise aşağıdaki gibidir.

On the occasion of the International Peace Congress organized in Paris in 1849, in his speech entitled “A Day Will Come,” Victor Hugo had spoken of a period when Europe would be known as the “United States of Europe” and where in his words:

“You France, you Russia, you Italy, you England, you Germany, you all, nations of the continent, without losing your distinct qualities and your glorious individuality, will be merged closely within a superior unit and you will form the European brotherhood”.

A European Union exists to-day but without Russia.

John Maynard Keynes in 1930 in his Essays in Persuasions wrote an article called “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” where he tried to answer the following question: “What can we reasonably expect the level of our economic life to be a hundred years hence? What are the economic possibilities for our grandchildren?” His answer was as follows:

“The pace at which we can reach our destination of economic bliss will be governed by four things; our power to control population, our determination to avoid wars and civil dissensions, our willingness to entrust to science the direction of those matters which are properly the concern of science, and the rate of accumulation as fixed by the margin between our production and our consumption; of which the last will easily look after itself, given the first three.”

Today, we are far from being able to make similar projections for our world or the EU. We can no longer speak of a unifying Europe at a time when we speak of a Brexit and Grexit, or of an EU with no problems when it is still living the economic side effects of the 2008 crisis which started hitting them hard in 2009. The recovery is still slow and the Eurozone still prone to ups and downs. To the existing economic crisis, new social and political problems have been added. The influx of refugees from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, the specter of the rise of extreme right parties and fascism within the EU forces us to contemplate a somewhat dark future for Europe.

Things do not look too bright for Turkey either. The economy is slowing down, many cities and regions of Turkey are living the aftershocks of having close to three million Syrian refugees living in the country, looking for jobs, living quarters, and schools while the widening conflict in Turkey’s southeast between government forces and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continues causing domestic and regional uncertainties.

These multifarious problems have led Turkey and the EU to revitalize their up till now frozen relations. The EU that had always emphasized its concerns on human rights, civil liberties, and democracy in Turkey seems now to have replaced the priority it had given to these fundamental values with new concerns about regional security, rising terrorism in the West, and the increase in the flow of refugees. This duplicity in the way relations between Turkey and the EU is conducted is saddening but a reality

The Turkey-EU Summit meeting of November 29, 2015 and the meetings that followed the summit allowed for the opening of a new Chapter  ­– Chapter 17 – in the accession negotiations, the starting of discussions over visa free travel for Turkish citizens by the end of the current year, the upgrading of the Customs Union Agreement, and the initiation of multiple talks on energy cooperation. This revitalization of relations was coolly welcomed by pro-EU constituencies in Turkey. One has only become too used to the “one step forward two steps back” policies of both the EU and Turkey.

Chapter 17 on Economic and Monetary Policy which was opened to negotiation during the Intergovernmental Conference last December had been formerly blocked by France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy. It is the 15th chapter to have been opened out of a total of 35. In my opinion, Turkey will face no trouble in aligning itself to the directives of Chapter 17. Its level of alignment to the Maastricht Criteria is somewhat satisfactory especially with regard to the levels of budgetary deficit and public debt. But inflation, total independence of the central bank and aligning Turkey’s laws with the EU’s Economic and Monetary Policy legislation are areas in which further progress is needed.

The visa issue is a complex one. It is stated that by October 2016, Turkish citizens will be able to travel to the EU without a visa. However, 72 criteria have to be met by Turkey during this visa liberalization roadmap, including the recognition of Cyprus which currently Turkey does not recognize. This political issue will have to be resolved before visa exemption for Turkish citizens can become a reality. Visa-free travel is also contingent on Turkey implementing the EU-Turkey readmission agreement, which would result in third country citizens illegally entering Europe via Turkey forced to return  to Turkey. The agreement is an ambiguous one since all illegal entrants from Turkey, independent of the time they might have moved to an EU country, could be sent back. There seems to be no time limit and one expert jokingly pointed out that even those illegal immigrants who had entered Europe in the 1940’s could end up being sent back.

Upgrading the Customs Union agreement (CU)[1] by modernizing its functioning and extending it to new areas and Turkey’s inclusion in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)[2] are two important topics on Turkey’s agenda. It has been argued for quite sometime that the present CU agreement was in need of revision. When examining the many possibilities concerning what kind of changes might be involved, five potential scenarios come to light:

1. Not changing the agreement thus letting the current and worsening implementation deficit and non-compliance record stand

2. Modernizing the agreement by making amendments without changing its sectorial scope, that is letting it deal only with industrial products

3. Taking the agreement as a base and revising it with a view to facilitating its functioning and expanding it to cover new areas

4. Working out a totally new CU agreement

5. Replacing the CU with a Free Trade Agreement

My preference would be Scenario 3 since it would necessitate less time to agree on revisions than rewriting a totally new CU agreement.

Since Turkey is not a member of the EU, Turkey’s inclusion in the TTIP faces serious obstacles. There is a slight chance that when a final agreement on TTIP is reached, Turkey might be integrated into the agreement since it is already a candidate country that has already signed a Customs Union Agreement with the EU. If this does not happen, then the solution might reside in Turkey’s signing a separate Free Trade Agreement with the US. Right now the EU-US trade talks are still continuing and a final agreement does not appear to be within reach. The 12th round of talks will take place in Brussels from February 22 to February 26 2016. We should be ready for a succession of rounds in the future.

Coming back to where we stand today in Turkey’s relations with the EU, the main item on the agenda for the EU seems to be to secure its borders with the help of Turkey in return for which it will extend financial aid to Turkey for hosting refugees while leaving the door slightly open for future accession. Wondering  whether we shall ever squeeze in…


[2] Kemal Kirişci “Turkey and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Boosting the Model Partnership with the United States” The Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) at Brookings, Policy paper Number 2, September 2013