Assessing Turkey’s Foreign Policy Choices towards the European Union


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 1, 2017

When Turkey adopted a new strategy for its relations with the European Union in 2014 in order to revitalize the accession process as well as open new avenues of integration, this constituted a critical step in marking the priorities in Turkey’s foreign policy. While Turkey’s accession to the EU still seemed far off, the new strategy, nonetheless, signaled a renewed commitment to the EU. The changing geopolitical conditions since 2013 –increasing uncertainty in the Middle East, a more proactive Russian presence
on the European soil, and instability around the Turkish borders –necessitate the continuation and strengthening of Turkey’s  institutional ties to the part of the world that still resonates some stability. Yet, since 2014, the EU faces unexpected consequences of external crisis and internal challenges. First, the EU confronted a militarily aggressive Russia over Crimea in 2013, second the Syrian crisis and the unprecedented flow of refugees into the European lands paralyzed the EU leaders, and finally when the British voted to leave the EU in 2016, it led to an existentialist struggle for the integration project.

The enhanced uncertainty over the EU as a project of peace and stability seems to indicate that even if and when Turkey aims to solidify its relations with the EU, it depends on the European willingness to do so. As a result, this paper aims to illustrate the multiple layers of complexities in Turkey’s foreign policy choices towards the European Union by focusing on how changing external conditions shaped
and constrained these choices.

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