Thorny Relations with the EU under AK Party Rule: Challenges and Prospects


Insight Turkey Volume 19 No. 2, 2017

Relations between Turkey and the European Union (EU) have faced many highs and lows since Turkey’s initial application to the European Economic Community in 1959. Therefore, in order to understand certain vicissitudes in Turkey’s EU membership process under successive AK Party governments, it is necessary to take into account both historical and reciprocal perceptions of the relations between these two. In order to build a comprehensive understanding, it is necessary to base the discussion on the fact that, Turkey-EU relations should be seen as dynamic and reciprocal in the flow of history. Both sides have faced dramatic social, economic and political changes with regard to the internal dynamics or developments that have taken place at the international level. Moving towards more specific objectives, the first AK Party government defined full membership to the EU as its strategic goal in the area of foreign policy.

In the first years of AK Party government, the full membership of Cyprus to the EU and changes in heads of governments in Germany and France might be seen as factors that created a negative impact on Turkey’s EU accession process. On the one hand, AK Party governments tried to pursue relations with the EU, while on the other paving the way for the establishment of regional peace and economic development inside Turkey. The pro-active diplomacy followed by AK Party governments later caused arguments about whether there was an axis-shift in Turkey’s foreign policy proceeding along with the Neo-Ottomanism discussions.

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