Turkey’s bid to join the European Union (EU) has been a long-standing process, beginning in 1987 when it applied to join the European Economic Community. However, negotiations have been fraught with complexities, with key hurdles such as the Cyprus dispute remaining unresolved. Cyprus has vetoed various chapters of Turkey’s accession process, causing tensions and obstacles.
Concerns over human rights, press freedom, and the rule of law in Turkey have also been recurring themes in the negotiations. The EU has criticized Turkey for its treatment of journalists, academics, and political opponents, leading to tensions and obstacles in the accession process.
The EU demands substantial legal and political reforms to align Turkey’s standards with European norms, including amending anti-terrorism laws, enhancing judicial independence, and addressing the Kurdish issue. As we stand at the crossroads of history in 2023, many are left questioning whether Turkey’s EU membership bid has reached the end of the road.
The Strained Relationship
Turkey’s relationship with the EU has been strained due to President Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies and power consolidation, as well as allegations of human rights abuses following the 2016 coup attempt. The EU has suspended Turkey’s accession negotiations, citing concerns over the rule of law and fundamental rights. This tumultuous period has seen sanctions, rhetoric, and countermeasures, making Turkey’s EU dream appear more distant than ever.
Turkey’s EU ambitions have been complicated by its involvement in conflicts like Syria and Libya, and its growing relationship with Russia. These issues have raised concerns about Turkey’s strategic alignment and strained the EU’s relationship. Turkey’s role in managing migration flows into Europe has given it leverage in negotiations, as seen in the 2016 EU-Turkey migration deal. This deal, which requires financial aid and visa liberalization for Turkish citizens, creates a delicate balance, with the EU relying on Turkey’s cooperation to manage the migration issue.
Turkey’s EU membership bid is uncertain due to the EU’s expansion fatigue and Turkey’s internal and external policies. Turkey remains a crucial partner for the EU in trade, security, and regional stability. Cooperation in these areas may incentivize both parties to seek common ground and potentially reinvigorate the accession process. The future of Turkey’s EU membership bid depends on their willingness to address their differences, find common ground, and work towards a future that benefits all parties involved. The path ahead remains uncertain, but Turkey’s future remains uncertain.